August/September 2009

Support for patients who need it most

For many people, a regimen of specialty prescription drugs can mean a better quality of life or a prolonged life. But using specialty drugs often can present challenges for patients.


Thanks to advances in research and technology, prescription specialty drugs continue to be developed to treat illnesses such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and hepatitis C.

However, the patients who use them are often presented with challenges, such as:

• Learning how to self-inject or have infusions at the doctor’s office
• Enduring severe side effects that can sometimes occur, making it critical that a patient be monitored and stick to his or her drug therapy.

Why specialty drugs cost more

The manufacturer’s cost of specialty drugs can range from $1,200 to $40,000 for a 30-day supply.1 These drugs are expensive for a number of reasons, including:

• Their unique makeup of complex molecules, bioengineered proteins and blood derivatives
• Administration, shipping and storage requirements
• Lack of manufacturing competition or generics.

However, you pay the prescription-drug copay or co-insurance, based on the medical-plan option in which you are enrolled, and the plan pays the difference in the drug cost.

Enhanced services for specialty-drug users

As part of your prescription-drug plan, Medco, TVA’s prescription-drug benefit administrator, provides enhanced services for patients receiving specialty drugs through its specialty pharmacy, Accredo Health Group Inc. Accredo ships a specialty drug to a home, doctor’s office or other clinical setting.

TVA members have access to nurses trained in specialty medications and can reach a specialty pharmacist anytime. The specialty pharmacy clinicians can improve a patient’s quality of life and help avoid significant waste of these high-cost products. Their coaching includes:

• How to mix, store and inject a specialty drug
• The importance of following the doctor’s dosing orders
• How to overcome medication side effects.

Medco monitors overall drug therapy for potentially harmful drug interactions and alerts the patient and doctor immediately to maximize treatment and safety. On average, patients on specialty medications take 12 additional medications over the course of a year, and, most likely, not all are prescribed by the same doctor.2

If you have questions about the services of Medco’s specialty pharmacy, call 1-800-818-0890.

Medicare Supplement Plan members should call 1-800-592-4520.

1 U.S. Government Accountability Office 2009 report
2 Accredo Health Group Inc.