Starting this month, Wegmans Food Markets is offering an enhanced Specialty Pharmacy Service for medications used to treat conditions in the fields of rheumatology, gastroenterology, neurology, and dermatology. Specialty pharmacy medications can produce dramatic improvements for some people with chronic conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn's Disease, Psoriasis and Multiple Sclerosis.
There are, however, barriers to successful outcomes. These medications are not readily available at all pharmacies, and the treatment course requires a much higher level of care coordination by the pharmacist. Treatment regimens can be complex; side effects, hard to manage; and the out-of pocket costs are typically high.
“Specialty medications are a demanding, but growing area of pharmacy,” says Pharmacist Jack Coultry, Wegmans manager of managed care. “Health outcomes can be improved through close contact with the prescribing physician and additional counseling by the pharmacist. Adding this enhanced care model for those customers who need it is a natural next step for us.”
James DiNicolantonio, Pharm.D. who joined Wegmans in 2009 at the Niagara Falls Blvd. store has been named the company’s first specialty pharmacist. He has received advanced training to meet the needs of this patient group, and this is his area of focus.
“I’ll talk regularly with these customers by phone,” DiNicolantonio says. “We’ll discuss any problems they’re having, like self-injecting or dealing with side effects. When necessary, I’ll consult with their physician. I’ll also talk to customers about programs that may lower out-of-pocket costs. We’re well equipped to deal with all of these concerns.”
DiNicolantonio pointed out another important advantage, beyond convenience, for Wegmans customers who are now filling these prescriptions at a specialty pharmacy. “We have a history of all prescription medications that a customer has filled with us. That puts our pharmacists in an excellent position to alert the customer to any red flags such as potential drug interactions.”
Wegmans also offers free home shipping for these and all prescription refills.
Fifteen medications are currently covered under Wegmans Specialty Pharmacy Service. Brand names are Avonex, Enbrel, Humira, Stelara, Cimzia, Rebif, Betaseron, Extavia, Kineret, Xeljanz, Forteo, Copaxone, Gilenya, Simponi, and Orencia.
By helping customers find ways around obstacles that commonly interfere with following the prescribed treatment course, Wegmans specialty pharmacy service aims to improve adherence and health outcomes.
“From the viewpoint of customer service and patient care, we want to be the gold standard,” Coultry says. “We want all of our customers, including those who are taking a specialty medication, to maximize whatever potential their medication may hold to improve their health and well being.”