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What is a "Specialty Pharmacy"?
By Amy N. Puntureri

There is a lot of talk on the radio, medical talk shows and television commercials about "specialty medications" and "specialty pharmacy". So what exactly IS Specialty Pharmacy and why is it such an important part of healthcare today?

The practice of Specialty Pharmacy deals with a group of chronic, hard to manage disease states, and the medications that are used to treat these diseases. Some examples of these diseases include:

  • Cancer
  • Hepatitis C
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • HIV
  • Psoriasis
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Growth Hormone Deficiency
  • Renal Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Osteoarthritis…and others

Some of the reasons that these diseases fall into the "specialty" category are the complexity of treatments, the need for frequent laboratory tests and physician follow ups, the need for strict adherence to medication therapy, and the high cost of the medications used in treatments. In order to be able to achieve favorable results when treating specialty disease states, patients need a much more personal, hands-on approach from their doctors, nurses, therapists and certainly their pharmacists.

Typically patients have been mostly mandated by insurance to receive their medications through mail order specialty pharmacies. Lately however, more and more retail pharmacies are beginning to dispense specialty medications, which provides patients with more choices in their healthcare, as well as a personalized approach to their treatment. At Giant Eagle Specialty Pharmacy, for instance, we offer patients in-store options for their care including one-on-one Pharmacist counseling, side-effect management, drug administration counseling including injection training, local in-store prescription pick up or home delivery, nutrition advice from our Registered Dietitians and the personalized attention you deserve from your local neighborhood Pharmacy.

Specialty Pharmacy is a large part of our healthcare today, and it is growing rapidly. Knowing that there are a lot of options for treatment and support is a great help to patients and caregivers.

To learn more about Giant Eagle's Specialty Pharmacy Services, visit GiantEagle.com/Specialty-Rx.

You can reach Amy N. Puntureri R.Ph at Amy.Puntureri@GiantEagle.com. Amy N. Puntureri R.Ph is a 1994 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. She has been a retail pharmacist for 19 years, 13 of which at Giant Eagle Pharmacy, and most recently was the Pharmacy Team Leader at the Village at Pine Market District in Wexford, PA. For the last year and a half she has been the Retail Pharmacy Operations Liaison for Giant Eagle's Specialty Pharmacy program.

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