Chances are, you have not yet heard of biosimilar medicines, the newest innovation in the fast-paced pharmacy world. But Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Pharmacy Services team has quickly developed an expertise in this new offshoot of specialty drugs — so much that Pharmacy Services Vice President James Lang was asked to share insights at a national forum on biosimilars hosted by the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy in Washington, D.C. “I was honored by the invitation to work with leaders from throughout the health care industry to tackle one of the most important topics facing pharmacy management — the rise in specialty drugs,” Lang said. Biosimilar medicines are follow-up versions of original biological medicines. They are not generics, but they are independently developed to have the same mechanism of action as the original biological medicines, and are designed to treat the same diseases as the innovator’s product. By creating market competition, they may also reduce the price of treatment. “Foreseeing the steep growth of specialty drugs and the introduction of biosimilars into the U.S. market, Blue Cross’s pharmacy team has been developing effective specialty drug utilization management strategies since 2000,” Lang said. “During the sessions, I received positive feedback as I shared our coordinated and integrated management approach to managing specialty drugs in both the pharmacy and medical benefit.” Lang discussed Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Pharmacy Services’ experience with educating employees, members, groups, and agents about the importance of managing specialty drugs for clinical appropriate use and health care value. He also provided information about how the company is implementing NDC (National Drug Code) level billing to enable more accurate reimbursement of high-cost specialty drugs. The Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy is a national professional association of pharmacists, health care practitioners and others who develop and provide clinical, educational and business management services on behalf of more than 200 million Americans covered by a managed pharmacy benefit. AMCP members are committed to a simple goal: providing the best available pharmaceutical care for all patients. Photo Credit: Melanie Tata
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