PHOENIX, Feb. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Spending on specialty medications is growing rapidly, but helping patients remain adherent to these important medications can help slow disease progression and keep patients out of the hospital, Prime Therapeutics Vice President of Specialty Pharmacy Solutions Elizabeth Mauer told participants at the 16th Annual Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute (PBMI) Drug Benefit Conference today.
"Balancing the tremendous financial burden of these drugs with their proven ability to improve health and save lives is a significant challenge for both members and plan sponsors," said Mauer. "Greater competition, new tools for specialty management, improved understanding of the cost/quality equation, a greater focus on patient outcomes and improved coordination across the health care spectrum will all change how we manage specialty benefits in the years ahead."
Specialty pharmaceuticals treat complex or chronic illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, hemophilia, hepatitis C and rheumatoid arthritis – conditions for which adherence to medications is critical. Many of these medications are "biologic" drugs, requiring a complex production process. Spending on specialty medications is increasing at twice the rate of the overall drug market, reaching an average annual cost of $32,735 in 2009.(i)
Mauer also spoke about the forces driving growth of specialty spending and identified the four keys for effective specialty pharmacy management: distribution channel, utilization management, care management and contracting activities.
"Through Prime's Triessent program, we found that safe and efficient delivery of medications, education and guidance from clinicians helps patients manage both their benefits and their condition," said Mauer. "Our integrated approach to pharmacy and medical care helps patients better adhere to their treatment plan. That means better health, fewer hospitalizations and less chance of needing additional treatments."
As a result of Triessent's approach, Prime has been able to help members achieve greater adherence rates than are typical without the program, while managing the cost of these medications for members and plan sponsors.
Delivered to an audience of pharmaceutical manufacturers, benefit managers and other experts within the industry, Mauer's discussion was one of the meeting's first day breakout sessions.
Prime Therapeutics is a pharmacy benefit management company dedicated to providing innovative, clinically-based, cost-effective pharmacy solutions for clients and members. Providing pharmacy benefit services nationwide to nearly 17 million covered lives, its client base includes Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, employer and union groups, and third-party administrators. Headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, Prime Therapeutics is collectively owned by 12 Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, subsidiaries or affiliates of those Plans. Learn more at www.primetherapeutics.com.
(i) Stephen W. Schondelmeyer, PRIME Institute, University of Minnesota, Leigh Purvis, AARP Public Policy Institute, and David J. Gross, AARP Office of Policy and Integration. "Rx Watchdog Report: Drug Prices Continue to Climb Despite Lack of Growth in General Inflation Rate." Insight on the Issues 36, November 2009. http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/ppi/health-care/i36-watchdog.pdf.
SOURCE Prime Therapeutics