The role of specialty pharmacy drugs in the management of inflammatory diseases

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Specialty drugs used in patients with inflammatory disease states are reviewed, with a focus on the pharmacist’s roles in facilitating medication procurement and in the clinical management of affected patients.


Pharmacists in the ambulatory care and community settings are strategically placed to be actively involved in specialty drug procurement and clinical management of patients with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, plaque psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and ankylosing spondylitis. Specialty medications used in the treatment of these diseases include anti–tumor necrosis factor (TNF) disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), non-TNF DMARDs, and interleukin inhibitors. Pharmacist involvement in drug procurement in this area includes navigating insurance barriers and helping patients address high out-of-pocket costs; clinical management activities can include ensuring appropriate baseline screening and vaccine administration, providing drug-specific patient education, and performing routine follow-up and assessment. Patient education is the single biggest area where pharmacists can have a direct impact on overall clinical management of patients receiving specialty drugs for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. These patients need to be educated about dosing, administration, storage and disposal, common and rare adverse effects, adverse-effect management strategies, expectations of drug effect, and considerations for unique circumstances such as illness and planned surgery.


Specialty drugs represent one of the fastest-growing sectors of pharmacy spending, with inflammatory disease therapies at the forefront. As pharmacists are accessible healthcare practitioners, their responsibilities should include financial and clinical management of patients with inflammatory diseases who are receiving specialty drugs.

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