OptiMed to Present Workshop on Navigating Patient Insurance Benefits

OptiMed Specialty Pharmacy will present a workshop titled, “Navigating Patient Insurance Benefits,” on Wednesday, January 11, 2017, aimed at physicians and their clinical and administrative staff. The workshop will enhance their knowledge of health insurance and benefits design and cover such topics as how networks differ from one another, how to navigate health plans and the specific benefits they offer, and how to anticipate coverage and cost share assignments.

The presentation will be offered on-site at OptiMed’s national headquarters, 6480 Technology Ave., Kalamazoo, Michigan, or online via webinar. Lunch will be provided for on-site attendees. There is no cost to attend, however, space is limited so register today to reserve your spot.

To register, call 269-250-8010 or email krizor@optimedpharmacy.com and provide your name, organization, email address, contact information and if you prefer to attend on-site or via the webinar.

OptiMed Donates to Local Charities During the Holiday Season

OptiMed Specialty Pharmacy donated stuffed stockings and boxes of candy canes for the City of Kalamazoo’s 11th annual Candy Cane Hunt. The city has been able to create a festive atmosphere in which over 46,000 candy canes and 2,200 stockings have been given away to children in the last 10 years.

In addition, OptiMed Pharmacy’s staff conducted a holiday charity drive throughout the month of December to collect items for Animal Rescue Project, including pet food, treats and supplies. In addition, $155 was collected to help animals at the shelter.

Animal Rescue Project is based out of Kalamazoo, Mich., and is a non-profit animal welfare group committed to the rescue, rehabilitation and adoption of at-risk pets from pound facilities.

OptiMed Specialty Pharmacy Moves into New National Headquarters

A newly constructed 15,000-square-foot facility along 9th Street in Oshtemo Township is the new national headquarters of OptiMed Specialty Pharmacy, an independently-owned and operated national specialty pharmacy located in Kalamazoo, Mich.

The new national headquarters features a large-scale, state-of-the-art dispensing system capable of dispensing up to 70,000 prescriptions a month, an expansive patient management center and patient support services, and offices to house the corporation’s executive team. The facility allows for rapid expansion of up to 34,000-square-feet.

“The new headquarters allows us to continue to provide exceptional patient care services to our patients living with rare and complex health conditions,” Andy Reeves, R.Ph., CEO of OptiMed said.

The new national headquarters is expected to generate approximately $1.2 million in capital investment and create approximately 80 new jobs.

For information about OptiMed or to apply for available positions, visit www.optimedspecialtyrx.com.

OptiMed Specialty Pharmacy, dually accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC) and URAC, specializes in the knowledge of medicines and treatments for such conditions as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, hepatitis C and more. The organization has over 20 years of experience collaborating with providers, payers, manufacturers and the community to offer personalized solutions to meet non-traditional patient needs.

First-Ever Psoriatic Arthritis Awareness Day Aims to Educate on Importance of Early Diagnosis and Treatment

Celgene Unites With National Psoriasis Foundation to Elevate Awareness of Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) and Rally Support for Patient Community

SUMMIT, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Celgene Corporation and the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) have united to mark Wednesday, September 28th as the first-ever Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) Awareness Day, a day dedicated to raising public awareness around the importance of recognition, diagnosis and treatment. People are encouraged to join the movement at GoPsADay.com to learn factors associated with PsA, help spread the word via their social channels, and to stand up and be counted for those living with this disease.

“These Psoriatic Arthritis Awareness Day efforts are just one step in addressing these needs and an important collective initiative to support the psoriatic community by recognizing those living with PsA, raising awareness of the factors associated with PsA, and providing much-needed education on the disease.”

More than 1 million Americans live with PsA, although this number may be higher given it is often underreported and misdiagnosed—particularly as symptoms are sometimes confused with other types of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout and reactive arthritis. Some factors associated with PsA include pitted fingernails, swollen fingers and toes, foot pain, joint stiffness and/or pain, and a personal or family history of psoriasis or arthritis.

Early recognition, diagnosis and treatment of psoriatic arthritis is critical for anyone living with the disease. Those who are experiencing any of the common symptoms of PsA should contact their healthcare provider.

“Psoriatic arthritis can present significant challenges to those living with the disease, including significant pain and swelling in joints that may impact a person’s activities of daily living,” said Madelaine Feldman, MD, rheumatologist. “While there is no cure, PsA can be managed, which is why it is critical for people to know the factors associated with PsA, talk with their healthcare provider to obtain the right diagnosis, and determine a treatment plan that works for them.”

“In 85 percent of PsA patients, psoriasis occurs before joint disease, so it is critical for psoriasis patients to understand factors associated with PsA,” said Randy Beranek, president and CEO, National Psoriasis Foundation. “Through these efforts and more, we hope to help improve understanding of the disease, decrease time to diagnosis, and stress the critical importance of early treatment to help lessen the impact on patients’ overall quality of life.”

PsA Awareness Day is dedicated to education, empowerment, and action for the PsA community. Here are some ways for people to get involved and show their support:

  • Visit www.gopsaday.com to access information and tools on diagnosis and guiding an active discussion with your healthcare provider.
  • Help spread the word via social channels utilizing PsA Awareness Day social media toolkit assets, including a “5 Factors Associated With PsA” infographic and #PsADay16.

“Celgene is committed to addressing the needs of people living with psoriatic arthritis, which means understanding every point of the patient journey from diagnosis to treatment,” said Scott Smith, President, Global Inflammation & Immunology, Celgene. “These Psoriatic Arthritis Awareness Day efforts are just one step in addressing these needs and an important collective initiative to support the psoriatic community by recognizing those living with PsA, raising awareness of the factors associated with PsA, and providing much-needed education on the disease.”

To learn more about PsA and help spread the word about awareness day efforts, visit GoPsADay.com.

About National Psoriasis Foundation

National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) is the world’s largest nonprofit serving those with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Our priority is to provide the information and services people need to take control of their condition, while increasing research to find a cure. In addition to serving more than 2.1 million people annually through our health education and advocacy initiatives, NPF has funded more than $13 million in psoriatic disease research grants and fellowships. Learn more about the National Psoriasis Foundation at www.psoriasis.org.

OptiMed Recognizes Artistic Employees During Last “Art Hop” Before Final Move to New HQ

Tonight marks a bittersweet moment here at OptiMed Specialty Pharmacy: we will be participating in our last Art Hop before we move to our new national headquarters, 6480 Technology Dr., Kalamazoo, Mich. Art Hop is a free, monthly program sponsored by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo and features an evening of art exhibits and events throughout downtown Kalamazoo. OptiMed has regularly participated in Art Hop since 2013, featuring dozens of artists at our downtown location, 154 S. Kalamazoo Mall.

To commemorate our final Art Hop, we are proudly recognizing and supporting those who have helped make the company what it is today: our very own employees. Tonight from 5-8 p.m., we will feature a showcase of employee artwork, including a variety of paintings, photography and a novel. Refreshments will be served.

We’ll move into our new national headquarters in mid-October. The 34,000-square-foot facility is currently wrapping up construction along 9th Street in Oshtemo Township to house our specialty pharmacy business. The project will generate approximately $1.2 million in capital investment and create approximately 80 new jobs. The new headquarters will feature a state-of-the-art dispensing system, an expansive patient management center and patient support services, and offices to house the corporate executive team.

The expansion would not have been possible without the support of the Kalamazoo community. We hope you will visit us downtown once more before our move in October!

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

14191951_1130830253662905_8410251143225363818_nIn the U.S., approximately 15,780 children under the age of 21 are diagnosed with cancer every year and approximately 25 percent will not survive the disease.

To bring awareness to the types of cancer that largely affect children and help raise funds for research and family support, September is designated as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

OptiMed Specialty Pharmacy is participating in Childhood Cancer Awareness Month by taking part in the Gold Ribbon Campaign, which started in the late 1990s when a group of parents began discussing the need for a universal symbol that would create awareness and mobilize increased attention for childhood cancer. The gold ribbon was adopted as an international awareness symbol as part of this movement.

Throughout the month of September, OptiMed Specialty Pharmacy is selling yellow ribbons for $1 to help raise funds and promote awareness for childhood cancer. Please stop by our downtown location at 154 S. Kalamazoo Mall in downtown Kalamazoo to make a donation now.

For more information about Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, please visit www.acco.org.

Source: American Childhood Cancer Organization, ICCD International

OptiMed Specialty Pharmacy Launches New HIPAA-Secure Online Portal

OptiMed Specialty Pharmacy, an independently-owned specialty pharmacy dedicated to delivering excellence and value in healthcare, recently released a new HIPAA-secure online portal that will streamline communication, increase transparency, and demonstrate value to key stakeholders, including physicians’ offices, health insurance companies, drug manufacturers and more.

The portal enhances communication with prescribers by providing 24/7 access to patient referral statuses and allowing office staff to send and receive electronic notes to and from the pharmacy. Additionally, providers and their staff can access clinical information and patient outcomes assessments in real-time as well as run a variety of reports on their patient data.

Health insurance companies will also have the ability to utilize the portal to run and view an assortment of dynamic reports, increasing transparency and improving access to detailed and timely information about their covered patients. The reporting dashboard gives payers access to statistics on prescribing patterns, patient outcomes, drug utilization and dispensing trends, and quality metrics.

Similarly, drug manufacturers will be granted “anytime” access to de-identified data on their products, and will have the ability to review prescribing patterns and trends, market share analyses, REMS compliance, and prescription dispensing metrics. Reporting content and frequency can be customized to meet the needs of drug or manufacturer-specific programs, and the portal will eliminate the need for data aggregators.

“We are excited about the ways this new technology will increase transparency, streamline communications, and provide our partners access to critical and timely information,” said Andrew Reeves, CEO of OptiMed Specialty Pharmacy. “This timely access to the right data is of great value to our collaborating partners throughout the industry.”  

For more information about the new online portal, call 877-385-0535 or visit www.optimedspecialtyrx.com.

Vitamin D Shown to Reduce Risk of Psoriasis & Other Diseases

pill-316599Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is converted by the body into a hormone called calcitriol or “activated vitamin D.” Calcitriol is responsible for modulating cell growth, reducing inflammation and promoting calcium absorption, bone growth and immune function. As a result, vitamin D plays a role in the management or prevention of a variety of diseases, including psoriasis. 

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, vitamin D has been proven to be effective in helping to treat psoriasis by slowing the rate at which skin cells grow and improving the immune system, resulting in thinner and less scaly plaques and reducing T-cell activity, lowering inflammation. As such, ensuring that patients with psoriasis have high enough levels of vitamin D is essential to optimizing the care of these individuals.

It is estimated that 40-75% of the world’s population is deficient in vitamin D.  Vitamin D deficiency is caused by a number of factors, including the fact that so many foods lack vitamin D, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). What few food sources there are include fatty fish, fish liver oil and eggs, with smaller amounts found in beef liver and cheese. In fact, most dietary vitamin D comes from fortified foods such as milk, orange juice, yogurt and breakfast cereals. 

Sunlight is another source of vitamin D, however, those living in northern latitudes don’t get enough due to the long, dark winter months. In addition, more people are using sunscreen, which blocks vitamin D-producing UV sun rays from reaching the skin.

Vitamin D has been associated with the prevention and treatment of many diseases, including psoriasis, mood disorders, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, immune system disorders and more: 

Osteoporosis. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 40 million adults in the U.S. have or are at risk of developing osteoporosis, a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue that increases bone fragility and increases the risk of bone fractures. Osteoporosis is most often associated with inadequate calcium intakes, but insufficient vitamin D contributes by reducing calcium absorption. Adequate levels of vitamin D maintain bone strength and might help prevent osteoporosis.

Cancer. Studies indicate that vitamin D can play a role in the prevention of colon, prostate and breast cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, early research showed that incidence and death rates for certain cancers were lower among individuals living in southern latitudes where sunlight exposure was relatively high, than among those living at northern latitudes. Because exposure to ultraviolet light from sunlight leads to the production of vitamin D, researchers hypothesized that variation in vitamin D levels might account for this association. In other studies of cancer cells and tumors in mice, vitamin D has been found to slow or prevent the development of cancer, including promoting cellular differentiation, decreasing cancer cell growth, stimulating cell death and reducing tumor blood vessel formation.

Heart Disease. The latest research shows that vitamin D is beneficial in preventing heart disease. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a growing number of studies support the idea that low levels of vitamin D are linked to an increased risk of heart disease and that adding vitamin D supplements can help reduce this risk.

Autoimmune Diseases. Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are autoimmune, chronic and relapsing diseases that include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Vitamin D is emerging as a multi-functional vitamin in IBD. It has recently been linked to a number of other functions like anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic pathways in the gastrointestinal tract.

Mood Disorders. Some studies suggest an association between low vitamin D levels in the blood and various mood disorders, including depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Also, vitamin D supplementation may improve symptoms of depression associated with SAD. In one study, vitamin D was found to be better than light therapy in the treatment of SAD.

One of the best sources of vitamin D is over-the-counter supplements, including vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D2 is made naturally by plants and vitamin D3 is made naturally by the body when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet radiation in sunlight. Many physicians prefer vitamin D3 because it is better absorbed and closer to the naturally occurring form of the vitamin in humans.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, 400 IU of vitamin D is necessary to prevent rickets but an overwhelming number of physicians and researchers believe this level is too low to reduce the risk of disease. Many physicians are now recommending 1,000 IU to 2,000 IU for most adults. However, excessive vitamin D can cause toxicity by increasing calcium levels, which can affect soft tissues such as the kidneys, heart or lungs. A safe level of vitamin D for adults and children older than 8 years old is 4,000 IU per day. Vitamin D toxicity is more likely to occur from high intakes of dietary supplements than from food or sunlight.

Screening for vitamin D deficiency requires a blood sample for measurement of serum 25(OH)D levels. Contact your physician for more information about this test.

OptiMed Specialty Pharmacy is a privately-held healthcare entity that is ACHC- and URAC-accredited and uniquely qualified to treat not only psoriasis but other diseases as described above, including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and more. OptiMed is devoted to helping individuals optimize treatment outcomes by providing personalized medication management and research-based clinical information. We work closely with each patient, prescriber and payer to create a personalized plan that will lead to treatment success and improved quality of life.

Our pharmacists are available to answer questions by calling 877-385-0535. For more information about our services, visit www.optimedspecialtyrx.com.

Source: National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Arq Gastroenterol

Comorbidities: Serious Medical Conditions Associated with Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a systemic autoimmune inflammatory disorder that may lead to the development of other serious medical conditions known as “comorbidities”. These may include cardiovascular disease, liver disease, diabetes, depression, cancer, autoimmune disorders and more. It is thought that comorbidities occur due to the inflammatory state of psoriasis. However, with proper management, the risk for many of these comorbidities can be minimized.

Comorbidities may include the following:


Up to 30% of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. It affects nearly 6% to 42% of those with psoriasis. This debilitating disease causes joint damage and a loss of function in some joints. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, nail changes, a reduced range of motion and swelling in and around the joints.

Studies show that delaying treatment for psoriatic arthritis can result in permanent joint damage. Early recognition, diagnosis and treatment is critical to relieve pain and help prevent joint damage. If you’ve been diagnosed with psoriasis, it is important to tell your dermatologist if you have any aches and pains.


Recent studies have found that those with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis have an increased risk of certain types of cancer, such as lymphoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. In fact, the relative risk of developing lymphoma was found to be nearly three times that of the general population. People with psoriatic disease should incorporate regular cancer screenings into their routine care.


Certain eye disorders – conjunctivitis, blepharitis and uveitis – are more common in people with psoriasis. Uveitis, an inflammatory disease of the eye, affects about 7% of people with psoriatic arthritis. Uveitis requires specific treatment so consult your rheumatologist for more information.


People with moderate or severe psoriasis are more likely to be obese, according to the Mayo Clinic. Studies show that nearly 46% of those with moderate or severe psoriasis were obese. Obesity is quantified as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. The inflammation linked to obesity may contribute to the development of psoriasis, or it may be that people with psoriasis are more likely to gain weight due to a less active lifestyle. Research shows that losing weight can improve psoriatic disease symptoms and help make treatments more effective.


According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, studies show that people with severe psoriasis are 30% more likely to have type 2 diabetes. The more severe the psoriasis, the greater the likelihood of type 2 diabetes. Symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst, hunger, blurred vision and fatigue.


The risk for heart attacks is almost three times greater for those with psoriasis, possibly due to the excess inflammation associated with psoriasis or the increased risk for obesity with patients. There is also an elevated risk of irregular heartbeats and strokes. In addition, some psoriasis treatments may cause abnormal cholesterol levels and increase the risk of hardened arteries. Treating your psoriasis can greatly reduce your risk of heart attacks and stroke. 


High blood pressure, elevated insulin levels and abnormal cholesterol levels all fall under the term “metabolic syndrome” and may increase the risk for heart disease for those with psoriasis. A recent study showed that 40% of those with psoriasis had metabolic syndrome compared to just 23% of the general population and affected more women than men. 


In a recent study of women with psoriasis, 10% developed a form of inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Those who had both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis were at even greater risk of developing Crohn’s. 


Patients with psoriasis are 1.5 times more likely to experience depression and use more anti-depressant medications than the general population. Nearly 80% psoriasis patients reported self-esteem issues, social isolationism, depression and even suicidal thoughts. Studies show that treating psoriasis can alleviate many of these symptoms.


People with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis may be at greater risk for developing a liver condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This could be due to the increasing incidence of obesity and the metabolic syndrome in these regions.


Moderate to severe psoriasis has been linked to higher risk of kidney disease. People with severe psoriasis are twice more likely to develop chronic kidney disease than those whose psoriasis was mild.

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory condition, making it imperative that the specialist evaluate every organ system. Consistent monitoring for signs and symptoms of these associated diseases is vital. With proper management, the risk for many of these things can be minimized.

OptiMed Specialty Pharmacy is a privately-held healthcare entity that is ACHC- and URAC- accredited and uniquely qualified to optimize treatment outcomes not only for psoriasis but other comorbid diseases as described above, including psoriatic arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and more.  OptiMed is devoted to helping these individuals optimize treatment outcomes by providing personalized medication management and research-based clinical information. We work closely with each patient, prescriber and payer to create a personalized plan that will lead to treatment success and improved quality of life.

Our pharmacists are available to answer questions by calling 877-385-0535. For more information about our services, visit www.optimedspecialtyrx.com.

Sources: Mayo Clinic, National Psoriasis Foundation, Rheumatology News

Psoriasis: Triggers & Treatment Options

psoriasis-causes-symptoms-treatments-s5-illustration-of-psoriasis_Medicine Net website

Image Source: Medicine Net Website


Psoriasis is a systemic autoimmune inflammatory disorder that affects about 3 percent of the U.S. population. It typically presents as dry, red, scaly patches on the skin and can start or worsen because of a trigger.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, psoriasis triggers are not universal. What may cause one person’s psoriasis to become active, may not affect another. Established psoriasis triggers may include the following:

Stress: Stress can cause psoriasis to flare for the first time or aggravate existing psoriasis and may have to do with stress affecting the immune system. Relaxation and stress relief may help prevent stress from impacting psoriasis.

Smoking: Smoking can double a person’s risk of getting psoriasis. It may be due to the thousands of ingredients in cigarette smoke. Nicotine may also alter the immune system and contribute to skin cell growth and inflammation.

Skin Injury: Psoriasis can appear in areas of the skin that have been injured or traumatized, including sunburns and scratches.

Cold Weather: Cold, dry air can worsen psoriasis due to the lack of humidity. Dry air prevents the skin from retaining moisture, thus causing tiny cracks to develop on the skin.

Medications: Certain medications are associated with triggering psoriasis. Patients are advised to ask their pharmacist for more information.

Alcohol: Alcohol appears to affect psoriasis in men more strongly than in women, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. One study found that heavy drinking actually lowered the effectiveness of psoriasis treatments in men. Other studies have shown that men with psoriasis drink more than men without, that there is a higher incidence of psoriasis in alcoholics, and that abstinence can improve the severity of the disease.

Infection: Anything that can affect the immune system can affect psoriasis. In particular, strep throat is associated with guttate psoriasis. Flare-ups may also occur following an ear ache, bronchitis, tonsillitis or a respiratory infection.


According to the National Institute of Arthritis & Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, doctors generally treat psoriasis based on the type and severity of the disease, size and location of the areas involved, and the patient’s response to initial treatment. Treatments can include: 

  • medicines applied to the skin (topical treatment)
  • light treatment (phototherapy)
  • medicines by mouth or injection (systemic therapy)

Treatments applied directly to the skin may improve its condition. Doctors find that some patients respond well to ointment or cream forms of corticosteroids, vitamin D, retinoids, coal tar, or anthralin.

However, over time affected skin can become resistant to treatment, especially when topical corticosteroids are used. Also, a treatment that works very well for one person may have no effect on another. Thus, doctors often use a trial-and-error approach to find a treatment that works, and may switch treatments periodically if a treatment does not work or if adverse reactions occur.

A second treatment option includes light therapy, which is administered by a doctor. Natural ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun and controlled delivery of artificial UV light are used in treating psoriasis.

For more severe forms of psoriasis, doctors sometimes prescribe medicines that are taken internally by pill or injection, referred to as systemic treatment. A combination of topical, light and systemic treatments often can result in increased effectiveness.

OptiMed Specialty Pharmacy is a privately-held healthcare entity that is ACHC- and URAC- accredited and uniquely qualified to treat psoriasis. OptiMed is devoted to helping these individuals optimize treatment outcomes by providing personalized medication management and research-based clinical information. We work closely with each patient, prescriber and payer to create a personalized plan that will lead to treatment success and improved quality of life.

Our pharmacists are available to answer questions by calling 877-385-0535. For more information about our services, visit www.optimedspecialtyrx.com.

Sources: Mayo Clinic, National Psoriasis Foundation, American Academy of Dermatology, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases