TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - March 1, 2017) - The Empire Life Insurance Company (Empire Life) (TSX:EML.PR.A.) announced today it will make its specialty drug program a standard feature in all Group drug plans it offers. The specialty drug program, part of the Empire Life Actively Managed Drug Solutions portfolio, will be included in new customers' plans starting June 1, 2017. Current customers will join the program when their policies renew.
Specialty drugs are high-cost prescription medications used to treat complex health conditions, such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, blood disorders, and multiple sclerosis. They often require special handling and administration. The specialty drug program will be available to all customers with a pay-direct drug card, in all provinces except Quebec.
Empire Life is partnering with Express Scripts CanadaΓôç to deliver the specialty drug program, to help employers keep drug benefit costs low while providing employees with better options for managing complex health conditions. The specialty drug program provides personalized education and coaching, as well as dispensing of medication. The result is that employees:
- better understand their health condition;
- understand how to self-administer medication;
- are supported through complex treatments and better manage side effects; and,
- are more likely to take medication as prescribed and suffer fewer unnecessary complications.
Chronic disease is on the rise in Canada1 and this means more medications are being charged to drug benefit plans. At the same time, new specialty drugs are coming to market in ever greater number. They can dramatically improve treatment and quality of life-and can be costly. According to the Express Scripts Canada 2015 Drug Trend Report, specialty drugs accounted for just 2% of the claims they processed in 2015, yet represented 30% of customers' drug spend overall. Express Scripts Canada predicts this will reach 42% of spend by 2020.
(1) Public Health Agency of Canada. "Against the Growing Burden of Disease". www.ccgh-csih.ca/assets/Elmslie.pdf
"New, high-cost drugs are beginning to put pressure on drug benefits, and our customers need solutions to keep their plans sustainable and competitive," said Steve Pong, senior vice-president, Group Solutions at Empire Life. "We are delighted to partner with Express Scripts Canada and bring their expertise to our customers. Express Scripts Canada is considered a premier provider of drug benefit management services, and they're making significant contributions when it comes to managing the high cost of drugs in Canada-as evidenced in a recent episode of CBC's The Fifth Estate."
"Tackling cost head-on through cost shifting or cutting benefits is not the best solution for employers in the long run," said Michael Biskey, President, Express Scripts Canada. "For employers, the prescription drug benefit plan makes it possible to attract highly skilled employees, enhance engagement and productivity, and reduce absenteeism. For employees, it means better health for themselves and their families. Our innovative solution allows Empire Life to offer its customers the kind of holistic support and care they need when they need it."
About Empire Life
Established in 1923 and a subsidiary of E-L Financial Corporation Limited, Empire Life provides individual and group life and health insurance, investment and retirement products to Canadians. Our mission is to make it simple, fast and easy for Canadians to get the investment, insurance and group benefits coverage they need to build wealth, generate income, and achieve financial security. As of December 31, 2016 Empire Life had total assets under management of $16.1 billion. Follow Empire Life on Twitter @EmpireLife or visit www.empire.ca for more information.
About Express Scripts Canada
Express Scripts Canada transforms the way organizations and employees think about and participate in their drug benefit plan. Express Scripts Canada provides pharmacy services to thousands of Canadian patients. Through its proprietary consumer intelligence, clinical expertise, and patients-first approach, Express Scripts Canada promotes better health decisions for plan members, while managing and reducing drug benefit costs for plan sponsors. Express Scripts Canada is indirectly owned by Express Scripts Holding Company. For more information, visit www.express-scripts.ca.
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