What Is a Specialty Pharmacy?

Many of us are used to hearing about maintenance medications – that is, medications that people take regularly to manage conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. There are also common medications we are used to being prescribed when we are sick, such as antibiotics like amoxicillin or steroids like prednisone. We can just get these through our standard local pharmacy since they are common and typically readily available. 

However, you may be less familiar with the concept of specialty drugs, and, in turn, the specialty pharmacies that stock them. Specialty drugs are most commonly used to treat cancer and chronic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and more. They may also be used during fertility treatment or in the field of endocrinology. By definition, they are drugs that require special handling, treat rare diseases, require ongoing clinical assessment or monitoring of side effects, and/or have a limited distribution and can only be filled at certain pharmacies. 

Specialty pharmacies are becoming more of a necessity given the growing number of specialty medications. At GBMC, we are extremely fortunate to have a specialty pharmacy available onsite. Having our specialty pharmacy onsite allows us to take care of the patient comprehensively under one roof. The patient can get their medication while still on our campus. Many patients who need specialty medications are immunocompromised, and having one less place to travel helps to limit exposures that may lead to contracting viral/bacterial infections. By having our specialty pharmacy on campus, we are ensuring that our own providers and staff are caring for the patient from the time they arrive to the time they are discharged, using the same electronic health record. This allows for improved care coordination and better collaboration between all care team members. 

One of the challenges associated with specialty drugs is their cost. This can be a barrier to patients. I’m proud that our specialty pharmacy team has worked with Qualify Health to implement a financial advocacy process that identifies and helps patients with out-of-pocket expenses. These patients are connected to resources that range from copay cards and patient assistance programs to funding from various disease foundations and rebates from drug manufacturers.  

Thank you to Yuliya Klopouh, PharmD, Executive Director of Pharmacy Services, and her team for bringing this wonderful offering to fruition. Their efforts to make specialty medications more accessible to patients with same-day delivery, onsite delivery to appointments, and connection to financial resources is leading to better care experiences and is truly the type of care I would want for my own loved ones. I am excited to see this important work continue, especially as we expand our specialty pharmacy services into our new GBMC retail pharmacy that will open in the new Louis and Phyllis Friedman Building as part of the Promise Project. 

Baltimore’s Best Hospital; One of America’s Greatest Workplaces 

We are honored that GBMC was recently named Baltimore’s Best Hospital by readers of The Baltimore Sun. This recognition is a testament to the dedication of the entire GBMC family who strives every day to provide the care we would want for our own loved ones. We take great pride in caring for our community, and I’m thankful to all who entrust us with their care. 

We are also thrilled to have been recognized as one of America’s Greatest Workplaces 2023 by Newsweek and data firm Plant-A Insights Group! We are proud of our workforce and strive to maintain a positive, welcoming, and inclusive work environment and are humbled to make this list.  

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