General pharmacies are virtually everywhere we look. There’s the big box pharmacy stores that in many suburban areas appear on nearly every corner. Then there’s the general big box stores with their clothing, food and electronics departments that now usually include a pharmacy wing. Then there’s the wholesale membership clubs that feature pharmacies too.
These generalist pharmacies are designed to cater to the most common medications, prescriptions that are most in demand. That leaves a big gap in access for many people who have more unique medication needs. And that’s where a specialty pharmacy comes to the rescue.
A specialty pharmacy is typically a pharmacy that offers less common prescription medications that are used in the care and treatment of chronic, complex or rare health conditions. Because these medications are not as widely used, they are less likely to be in stock at general pharmacies and therefore harder to find. Most specialty pharmacies are delivery-based services rather than in-person pick-up.
But a specialty pharmacy is more than just a resource for hard-to-find medication. In fact, specialty pharmacies are so much more. Beyond their specialized stock, specialty pharmacies also:
Anyone with a rare or chronic condition may use a specialty pharmacy. But those are not the only patients who benefit from access to a specialty pharmacy. Patients who require medication that demands special handling or is an injectable or infusion will also most likely utilize a specialty pharmacy.
Patients with conditions such as these may also be more likely to use a specialty pharmacy:
You can think of a specialty pharmacy as full-service care compared to the drop off/pick-up model of a local general pharmacy. A specialty pharmacy takes things further beyond just getting you the medication you were prescribed, that’s why it’s often referred to as a “high-touch” experience. Here’s some of the unique features that make a specialty pharmacy different from a general pharmacy:
Each state licenses specialty pharmacies individually. You can talk to your care team or primary care provider to refer you to a speciality pharmacy. Most will be mail order or delivery services, so you can request refills with a phone call or online using a specialty pharmacy’s website or application. Some hospitals or health care systems offer their own specialty pharmacy. Checking with your insurance company can be helpful as they may provide one as well.
Medly is a specialty pharmacy providing all of the benefits including expert care and handling of perishable medications, in-house doorstep delivery and financial assistance through authorization and assistance programs. When in doubt, it’s best to discuss your options with your healthcare provider.