Pulmonary Hypertension and Life’s Situations

May 14, 2013
For those with pulmonary hypertension, therapy adherence is a life or death decision. Express Scripts' specialists help patients be adherent, healthier.
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  • Pulmonary Hypertension

For people with pulmonary hypertension, adherence to prescribed therapy is quite simply a life-or-death decision. Untreated, it is a progressive and fatal disease. Pulmonary hypertension is characterized by high blood pressure and damage to the blood vessels in the lung, which eventually leads to damage to the heart.

As a specialist pharmacist, every day I focus on making sure patients get the right prescription drugs at the right dosages, but even more so, that they stay on the prescribed regimen. It’s the unmatched value that our team of specialist nurses and pharmacists in Accredo’s Pulmonary Hypertension Therapeutic Resource Center (TRC) provides every day.

In their lifetime, most doctors will never see more than a few patients with pulmonary hypertension. In contrast, the specialized nurses and pharmacists of our TRC practice serve hundreds of people living with this terrible disease every day. The importance of the clinical specialization, being focused on one disease, comes to light when a patient has a unique or unusual situation. Our team goes above and beyond to help them reach a healthier outcome.

Specialist Pharmacists Won’t Let Life Get in the Way

Recently, one patient had to make an unexpected, extended trip to Southeast Asia due to a medical emergency involving family. In addition to dealing with a stressful situation, the patient needed enough medication for his trip.

This may not seem like a big deal, but the challenges were significant.

Because these medications are so expensive and require special handling, most insurance plans cover only a 30-day supply at a time. Further, shipping the medication internationally would take a minimum of seven days. Shipping medications internationally has many challenges, including drug distribution rights and mail safety requirements. In addition, many pulmonary hypertension medications need protection against extreme temperature changes. A long transit time could create safety issues.

Undeterred, we banded together and got to work getting the medications prescribed by his physician and approved by insurance. We worked with the patient’s daughter – who had to serve as an interpreter – to make sure the patient had all the information he needed: how to store the medication, how to get through airport security, how to ensure he had supplies for administering the medication and, importantly, how to stay on his regimen.

For most healthcare professionals, the complexity of the situation might have been too much. But as a dedicated specialty pharmacy, the team at Accredo is used to dealing with special patient needs, and we have a history of success in managing them.

Specialization Makes the Difference for Patients

It’s not just years of experience and teamwork. Our degree of clinical specialization and knowing how to treat specific diseases is what makes the difference for patients.

All of it paid off: We delivered an adequate supply of medications to the patient on time, as well as the support and counseling he needed to keep him on the right track. Our team taking all of that off his plate meant he could focus on his family situation.

To me, that’s what we’re here for: to not only treat the disease, but to help patients manage through life situations that can make it tough for them to take care of themselves.

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