Conditions

What conditions are treated with specialty medications?

Conditions treated with specialty medications are often complex and chronic (long-term) conditions. Some examples of these conditions are:

  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Hepatitis C
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Psoriasis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

Often, these conditions require specialty medications. These medications are usually expensive, and they often:

  • Must be injected into the body (though there are a number of newer specialty medications that may be taken by mouth)
  • Have unique storage or shipping requirements
  • Require additional education and support from a health care professional

Learn more about your medications

You may also want to check the product websites for any medications that have been prescribed for you. If you need help locating those websites, feel free to contact us by phone at 262-252-5600 or by email at rx.customer.care@aurora.org.

Cancer

Medications for cancer treatment can be difficult for patients to handle. Many people who take medications for cancer benefit from specialized education about their medications.

At the Aurora Specialty Pharmacy, we can help by offering information to:

  • Manage side effects
  • Help patients successfully remain on therapy
  • Help patient reach treatment goals

We’re here to help

Your health and safety are important to us, so you can expect our pharmacists and support staff to work with you and communicate with you and your other health care providers to ensure you receive safe, quality care.

Part of what our pharmacists do is to partner with you, your caregivers and your health care providers to ensure you take your cancer medications correctly and recognize and report any adverse drug events immediately.

More information

For more information about cancer treatments, check out some reliable sources on the web.

Learn more about your medications

You may also want to check the product websites for any medications that have been prescribed for you. If you need help locating those websites, feel free to contact us by phone at 262-252-5600 or by email at rx.customer.care@aurora.org.

Crohn’s disease

What is Crohn’s disease?

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease, which is the general name for diseases that cause swelling in the intestines. When a person has Crohn’s disease, any area of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract can be affected.

Who gets Crohn’s disease?

Crohn’s affects both men and women equally, and about 20 percent of people with Crohn’s disease have a blood relative with some form of inflammatory bowel disease. Often, this relative will be a brother or sister, but sometimes it is a parent or child. Crohn’s disease can occur in people of all age groups, but it is often diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 30.

What are the symptoms of Crohn’s disease?

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease can include:

  • Persistent diarrhea (loose, watery or frequent bowel movements)
  • Cramping and/or abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Rectal bleeding (which, if serious, can lead to anemia)
  • Weight loss
  • Tiredness or fatigue

The disease is not always limited to the GI tract. It can also affect the joints, eyes, skin and liver.

What is the treatment for Crohn’s disease?

The goals of treatment for Crohn’s disease are to:

  • Control inflammation
  • Correct any nutritional deficiencies
  • Relieve any symptoms, such as:
    • Abdominal pain
    • Diarrhea
    • Rectal bleeding

Treatment can help control the disease by reducing the number of times a person experiences a recurrence. However, there is no cure.

The treatment also depends on the:

  • Location and severity of the disease
  • Complications of the disease
  • Person’s response to previous medical treatment

Treatment options

Options for treatment include:

  • Drugs
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Surgery
  • A combination of these options

More information

For more information about treatments for Crohn’s disease, check out the following websites:

Learn more about your medications

You may also want to check the product websites for any medications that have been prescribed for you. If you need help locating those websites, feel free to contact us by phone at 262-252-5600 or by email at rx.customer.care@aurora.org.

Hepatitis C

What is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis C virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness that lasts a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness that attacks the liver.

Hepatitis C is considered chronic when the body can’t get rid of the hepatitis C virus. Most hepatitis C infections become chronic. Over time, approximately 60 to 70 percent of people with chronic hepatitis C develop liver disease, and 1 to 5 percent of people get liver cancer or cirrhosis.

What are the symptoms of Hepatitis C?

There are many people with hepatitis C who do not have symptoms and do not know that they are infected. Symptoms of chronic hepatitis C can take up to 30 years to develop, and damage to the liver can silently occur during this time. When symptoms develop, they are often a sign of advanced liver disease.

Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Upset stomach
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Light-colored stools
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice (yellowish eyes and skin)

What is the treatment for Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is not treated unless it becomes chronic. Medications called antivirals can be used to treat many people with chronic hepatitis C. A number of factors should be considered before starting antiviral therapy, such as the condition of the liver and whether the person has any other health conditions.

Treatment often involves taking combinations of different antiviral medications that help fight the hepatitis C virus. For many people, medical treatment can be successful and can result in the hepatitis C virus no longer being detected in the blood. More information

If you’d like to learn more about treatments for Hepatitis C, we recommend the following websites:

Learn more about your medications

You may also want to check the product websites for any medications that have been prescribed for you. If you need help locating those websites, feel free to contact us by phone at 262-252-5600 or by email at rx.customer.care@aurora.org.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system – the system that is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. A fatty tissue called myelin surrounds and protects the nerve fibers of the central nervous system, and that tissue helps nerve fibers conduct electrical impulses throughout the body. When someone has MS, myelin is damaged in many areas – known as plaques or lesions – and the scar tissue that develops as a result is called sclerosis. When myelin or the nerve fiber is damaged, the ability of the nerves to conduct electrical impulses and tell the body what to do is disrupted.

What are the symptoms of MS?

The range of symptoms in MS varies dramatically from person to person and depends on the area of the nervous system that is affected. The initial symptoms of MS are often blurred or double vision, red-green color distortion or even blindness in one eye. Most people with MS experience muscle weakness in their extremities and difficulty with coordination and balance.

Additional symptoms of MS may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Tremors
  • Changes in speech
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Depression
  • Impairment of pain, temperature or touch senses

How do you treat MS?

There is no cure for MS; however, there are medications available to help manage the disease. The goals of therapy are to:

  • Improve recovery from attacks
  • Prevent or reduce the number of relapses
  • Stop the disease from progressing

There are different types of treatments a physician can prescribe for MS.

  • Interferons are a type of treatment that helps reduce the number of exacerbations (episodes) a patient may experience. They may also slow the progression of physical disability.
  • Immunosuppressants and monoclonal antibodies are used to help alter a patient’s immune response to the disease.

Treatment can cause side effects, but it is important that a person never change their dosage or stop taking their medication without talking to their doctor or pharmacist.

More information about MS

Two resources and organizations available for support, advocacy and information are:

Learn more about your medications

You may also want to check the product websites for any medications that have been prescribed for you. If you need help locating those websites, feel free to contact us by phone at 262-252-5600 or by email at rx.customer.care@aurora.org.

Psoriasis

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin disorder related to a person’s immune system. It is a chronic disease that causes scaling and inflammation of the skin. This occurs when skin cells quickly rise from below the surface of the skin and pile up before they have a chance to mature. Normally, this process takes about a month, but when someone has psoriasis, it may occur in a few days. The quickened pace of skin cells surfacing results in patches of thick, red and inflamed skin that is often covered with silvery scales. These patches are called plaque, and they are usually itchy or sore. Plaque patches most often occur on the elbows, knees, legs, scalp, lower back, face, palms and soles of the feet; however, plaque can develop on the skin anywhere on the body.

Psoriasis often looks similar to other skin diseases. Therefore, doctors can have a difficult time diagnosing the disease. Doctors will diagnose a person with psoriasis based on their physical exam, and they may also need to take a small skin sample to examine it under a microscope.

How do you treat psoriasis?

Psoriasis treatment depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The severity of the disease
  • The size of the area(s) affected
  • The type of psoriasis
  • The person’s response to previous treatments

Some of the treatment options are:

  • Topical treatment – This type of treatment is applied directly to the skin and can be soothing to the patient. Many patients respond well to ointment or cream forms of corticosteroids, vitamin D3, retinoids, or anthralin.
  • Phototherapy – Some patients may be treated with artificial ultraviolet light that is administered in the doctor’s office. This helps decrease inflammation and slow the turnover of skin cells that cause scaling.
  • Systemic therapy – Doctors may prescribe medicines that are taken by mouth or injected (for patients who have more severe forms of psoriasis). This can include medicines that help suppress the immune system.

More information about psoriasis

To learn more about treatments for psoriasis, you may find the following websites helpful:

Learn more about your medications

You may also want to check the product websites for any medications that have been prescribed for you. If you need help locating those websites, feel free to contact us by phone at 262-252-5600 or by email at rx.customer.care@aurora.org.

Psoriatic arthritis

What is Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriasis is a disease that causes scaly red and white patches to develop on the skin. It occurs when the body's immune system goes into overdrive to attack the skin. When the immune system attacks the joints as well as the skin, some people with psoriasis can also develop psoriatic arthritis, which causes inflammation. Like psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis symptoms flare and subside, and they vary from person to person.

Psoriatic arthritis can affect any joint in the body. It may affect just one joint, or it may affect several to multiple joints. For example, it may affect one or both knees. Finger and toenails may also be affected.

Who is affected by psoriatic arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis usually appears in people between the ages of 30 to 50, but it can begin as early as childhood. Men and women are equally at risk. Children with psoriatic arthritis are also at risk of developing uveitis (inflammation of the middle layer of the eye).

What is the treatment for psoriatic arthritis?

Treatment for psoriatic arthritis varies depending on the level of pain. Those with mild arthritis may require treatment only when their joints are painful, and they may stop therapy when they feel better.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, are used as initial treatment. If the arthritis does not respond to initial therapies, disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs may be used. Biologic drugs are also available, and they can help the arthritis as well as the skin psoriasis.

Many people with arthritis develop stiff joints and muscle weakness due to lack of use. Exercise is very important to improve overall health and keep joints flexible. Getting enough exercise can be quite simple. Walking is an excellent way to get exercise. An exercise bike provides another good option, and yoga and stretching exercises can help with relaxation and stress reduction, which important in reducing flare-ups.

More information

If you’d like to learn more about psoriatic arthritis, we recommend the following websites:

Learn more about your medications

You may also want to check the product websites for any medications that have been prescribed for you. If you need help locating those websites, feel free to contact us by phone at 262-252-5600 or by email at rx.customer.care@aurora.org.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function in the joints. It is a condition in which the immune system, which normally protects the body by fighting infections and diseases, targets the body.

When someone has RA, the immune system attacks the tissues that line the joints, which affects their ability to work properly. Over time, RA may damage bone and cartilage in the joints and weaken the muscles and tendons that support the joints.

What are the symptoms of RA?

The symptoms of RA can include:

  • Tender, warm, swollen joints
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Pain and stiffness lasting for more than 30 minutes in the morning

What is the treatment for RA?

Treatment for RA focuses on:

  • Pain relief
  • Reducing swelling in the joints
  • Slowing down or stopping joint damage so that people feel better and stay active

There are a variety of approaches to treating RA, and they are often used in combination and at different times during the course of the disease. Treatment approaches can include:

  • Health behavior changes
  • Medications
  • Surgery
  • Routine monitoring
  • Ongoing care

When doctors prescribe treatment for RA, they consider:

  • The patient’s health
  • The severity of the RA
  • The length of time the patient will take a medication
  • The medication’s potential side effects

Some medications are used only for pain relief. Other medications, like corticosteroids and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), are used to try to slow down the course of the disease. The newest type of medications are genetically engineered to help reduce inflammation and damage to the joints.

More information

Among resources and organizations available to help and to provide support, advocacy and information are:

Learn more about your medications

You may also want to check the product websites for any medications that have been prescribed for you. If you need help locating those websites, feel free to contact us by phone at 262-252-5600 or by email at rx.customer.care@aurora.org.