There is no standard definition for a specialty medication, but drugs in this category typically share one or more of the following characteristics.
First, they are expensive — the average monthly cost to payers and patients for a specialty medication is $3,000, ten times the cost for non-specialty medications.
Second, they can be difficult to administer. They are often given by injection or infusion to treat complex, chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis.
Third, the drugs may require special handling; including temperature control.
And finally, patients taking these medications may need ongoing clinical assessment to manage challenging side effects.
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