CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members who require certain injectable medications for chronic conditions can now take advantage of a new Specialty Pharmacy Program.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2004, group and individual policyholders can order their prescription injectable drugs direct from one of three national vendors. Injectable medications include more than 100 specialty drugs administered through a needle for conditions ranging from arthritis to hepatitis C.

“The Specialty Pharmacy Program makes managing chronic conditions more convenient and effective for our members,” said Dr. Terry Shea, director of pharmacy services for BlueCross. “Whether individuals need the medication and related supplies shipped to their home for self-injection or to a doctor’s office, the appropriate level of support can be provided for the situation.”

Member support services and advantages of the pharmacy program include access to patient care coordinators, educational materials, 24-hour call support from clinical pharmacists and nurse specialists, and a choice of product delivery locations.

Doctors also receive extra support services to help manage patient care, such as 24-hour phone support and disease management programs that actively monitor and manage complex drug therapies.

In addition to improved service, the program helps control rising prescription drug costs by negotiating the same pricing and discounted rates with each of the specialty pharmacy vendors.

“The program’s one-step enrollment process eliminates the need for physicians to buy, store and maintain costly inventories of specialized medications and bill for those drugs,” Shea said. “Besides these potential savings, self-funded groups will see a reduction in claims costs as a result of the discounts, and customers covered by a coinsurance or percentage copay plan may also see their out-of-pocket costs lower.”

To participate in the new program, members can directly call a preferred vendor or ask their doctor to contact the vendor. Once contacted, the vendor will work with the provider to coordinate details for the prescription.

For more information on the Specialty Pharmacy Program, a list of covered drugs or vendor contact numbers, visit www.bcbst.com and choose Pharmacy under Health Resources from the home page. Or BlueCross members may call customer service at the phone number listed on the front of their member ID card.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.