This blog was written by Karen Murphy, Patient Assistance Liaison at Orsini Specialty Pharmacy
It’s an unfortunate truth that although incredible progress has been made in discovering new medications to treat rare diseases in the last two decades, their high cost can frequently be unattainable for patients who need them most. A review of the numbers illuminates the situation: costs for ‘orphan drugs,’ used to treat conditions or diseases that affect less than 200,000 people in the U.S., are much higher than traditional drugs. From 1998 to 2017, the average per-patient annual costs for orphan drugs increased 26-fold while other drug costs merely doubled. So it’s not surprising that by 2018, an orphan drug’s average annual cost was $150,854 compared to $33,654 for a non-orphan drug.
In the face of these concerning statistics, it is essential for physicians, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals - all committed to ensuring the best possible outcomes for their patients - to be aware of several highly effective, proven ways to drive down patients’ out-of-pocket expenses for specialty drugs. Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) are available to cover many patient situations - uninsured, underinsured, commercially insured, publicly insured - and provide access to these life-changing medications.
These disease advocacy organizations, as well as your specialty pharmacy, serve as excellent sources of information and guidance with financial assistance, and have made numerous strides in helping remove cost barriers and improving access to vitally needed orphan drugs. Even patients with good healthcare insurance may need help relieving the financial burden of costly treatment regimens for lifelong conditions.
However, the process is often complex and time-intensive and can be daunting to patients already overwhelmed by coping with the physical effects of a rare disease. Thoughtful, expert guidance is key to identifying, enrolling and following up with the appropriate programs, and an essential part of services offered by leading specialty pharmacies. At Orsini, our emphasis goes well beyond the traditional, with highly personalized support for patients seeking financial assistance. As the Patient Assistance Liaison, my sole focus is on opening the door to any and all sources available for financial assistance. I work with each patient individually to identify every possible avenue for financial assistance, help them quickly and easily enroll (and re-enroll when needed) in appropriate programs, monitor and recommend new funding opportunities, and ensure maximum benefits are received. Every interaction provides fresh inspiration, from helping a patient receive their vitally needed medication and get co-pay coverage while awaiting Medicaid approval, to restoring the services of a favorite infusion nurse for a patient whose request had been turned down by their current insurer. Professionally and personally, there is no greater satisfaction than connecting with patients and helping them navigate programs that can make an enormous difference in their lives.
Learn more about how Orsini Specialty Pharmacy can help match your patients with the best available programs for managing their medication costs and ensuring continuous coverage. Our dedicated team of experts facilitates and simplifies the process by offering an individualized approach to enroll patients in manufacturer-specific programs and non-profit foundations for assistance with medication co-pays, nursing support and other treatment-related expenses.
Orsini is a leading independent national specialty pharmacy accredited by ACHC, JCAHO, URAC, and VIPPS. The services we provide allow patients, physicians, payers, and manufacturers to improve care, simplify processes, and achieve better outcomes.Learn More