Updates to Support Staff Specialty Drug Benefit Approvals

01 February 2021

If you're enrolled in the support staff employee benefits plan, the pre-approval process for specialty, high-cost drugs is changing.

The Support Staff Benefits Committee* has appointed the FACET program to review prescriptions for specialty, high-cost drugs. This prior authorization ensures plan members have the best available drug and care for their condition, and that the costs are carefully assessed so that the support staff benefit plan remains stable and sustainable. 

Previously, Sun Life administered prior authorization claims. This process change will only impact plan members who are newly prescribed certain specialty drugs costing more than $5,000 annually after March 1, 2021. Specialty drugs approved by Sun Life in effect before March 1 will be grandfathered until your prior authorization renewal time. 

The process involves a plan member and their physician filling out a prior authorization form, which is then reviewed by FACET’s clinical pharmacists. Physicians who prescribe this type of drug are usually specialists who are familiar with the process, and 90% of prior authorization requests are facilitated by patient support programs to make the process easier. The approval process is quick, with over 70% of FACET claims completed the same day and over 95% by the next day. 

Full details about the FACET program and upcoming changes to the prior authorization process are available on the University of Alberta’s website.

Check whether you’re eligible for the FACET prior authorization program by accessing your Sun Life account

Cubic Health, an independent third party, administers the FACET program and does not share any of your personal or medical information with the University of Alberta or NASA. 

*The Support Staff Benefits Committee is a joint committee of the U of A and NASA tasked with ensuring support staff are educated about their benefits, that benefit plans provide necessary coverage, and that benefit plans remain financially sustainable.