Multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment involves specialty medications that often incur high out-of-pocket costs for patients living with MS. According to a 2019 study, this number is approximately $300 to $600 per month in the United States.
In addition to financial barriers, access to specialty treatments may also be limited by issues with coordination between pharmacists and practitioners. These barriers can often contribute to worse patient outcomes.
Shields Health Solutions, a subsidiary of Walgreens Boots Alliance, bills itelf is a specialty pharmacy accelerator dedicated to improving outcomes for people living with complex, chronic conditions, including MS.
In a recent press release, the Boston-based company reported the latest patient outcomes for several diseases, including MS. For MS, Shields uses annualized relapse rate (ARR) as a measure of response to treatment and disease progression. The ARR represents the average number of flare-ups reported by patients in one year. A lower number indicates better outcomes.
Shields reported an ARR of 0.18, which falls at the low end of the optimal range of 0.16 to 0.37. To achieve this benchmark, Shields says it collaborates with health systems throughout the U.S. to improve access to specialty pharmacies, assist with prior authorizations and identify financial assistance opportunities.
The company’s clinical team encompasses seven MS-certified specialists, including clinical pharmacists who review medical records to determine root causes for relapses, work with patients to improve medication adherence, and coordinate care with clinicians to manage patient relapses.
According to the Shields outcomes report, 93% of MS patients with access to the Shields care model start taking their medication within less than two days of receiving a prescription, with an average copay of $10. Access to financial assistance services has resulted in savings of close to $54 million per year in patient out-of-pocket costs.
Shields Health Solutions presented research posters and details on patient outcomes at this year’s National Association of Specialty Pharmacy Annual Meeting and Expo in Grapevine, Texas