Specialty Pharmacy Times Addresses Confusion About What Seriously Ill Patients Can and Should Expect from Specialty Pharmacies

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Leading online and digital news source responds to recent news reports: distinguishes between high touch specialty pharmacies and organizations that offer products without other supports important to those needing complex care.

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“The specialty pharmacy business is built around improving patients' lives. It has an incredible impact on patients’ health,” said Dan Steiber, R. Ph., editor-in-chief at Specialty Pharmacy Times.

Specialty Pharmacy Times, the specialty pharmacy industry’s number one journal and the most read publication among specialty pharmacists and pharmacy professionals, today cautioned specialty pharmacists and other industry stakeholders as well as patients and caregivers to be aware of the distinctions between true specialty pharmacies and other organizations that offer high-priced medications without other important high touch health care and related services for seriously ill people needing complex care.

“The specialty pharmacy business is built around improving patients’ lives. It has an incredible impact on patients’ health,” said Dan Steiber, R. Ph., editor-in-chief at Specialty Pharmacy Times. “Specialty pharmacy is distinctly different from mail order and direct-to-patient pharmacies which have begun dispensing high cost, complex medications without needed supports. Specialty pharmacies are very service-oriented, while the others are generally high volume and not customized to the patient.”

“To date, there is no regulated definition of specialty pharmacy, leading to rampant confusion about what a true purposed specialty pharmacy is,” Steiber continued. A specialty pharmacy offers many types of services and supports to meet the needs of people with serious health conditions, such as cancer, hepatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, organ transplantation or bleeding disorders. Services can, and often do, include help with reimbursement for costly medicines, assistance in using medications properly, intensive patient management, special handling and administration assistance.

Recently, some news reports have called into question the integrity of the business and practice of specialty pharmacy, Steiber said. He invited those confused or alarmed by controversies about the industry to look to the Specialty Pharmacy Times digital and print publications to gain a better understanding of the value specialty pharmacy provides to the patients it serves.

For example, the Specialty Pharmacy Times editor counseled patients and caregivers to look for third-party accreditation of the pharmacies they use. While no state has yet designated a category for specialty pharmacy, Steiber said these pharmacies are often accredited by independent third parties, such as URAC® or the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC). Most entities claiming to be a specialty pharmacy demonstrate competency by obtaining accreditation, he said.

Specialty Pharmacy Times focuses on key areas surrounding specialty pharmaceuticals and the enhanced practice needs of pharmacists in this arena. Specialty pharmacy products often have unique properties requiring enhanced services, customized equipment and procedures for shipping, precise storage conditions, intense patient management and, due to their higher cost, advanced knowledge about what the pharmacy must do to get reimbursed for them. These high-cost drugs can also be complicated for patients to use, requiring the pharmacy to provide coaching and follow-up care to ensure proper use.

“While specialty pharmacy is a business, an unfailing commitment to the well-being of the patient tops the list of their priorities,” Steiber said.

Steiber noted many industry leaders serve on Specialty Pharmacy Times’ editorial board, including executives from Walgreens, Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy, Amgen, Avella Specialty Pharmacy and more.

Specialty Pharmacy Times recently announced a partnership with the National Association of Specialty Pharmacy (NASP), the only national trade association dedicated solely to the developing field of specialty pharmacy, which represents 71 companies in the specialty pharmacy industry, including 42 of the nation’s leading specialty pharmacies.

“Recent media reports have made it clear that specialty pharmacy is not well understood,” said Robert A. Fulcher, CAE, chief operating officer of NASP. “The commitment that NASP members have made to ensure that their patients make optimal use of complex medications is being completely mischaracterized. NASP is pleased to be able to work with Specialty Pharmacy Times to help correct this misperception of an important component of the health care system.”

This ongoing collaboration allows for industry leaders to share insight and start a discussion as to the value specialty pharmacies provide and to keep the focus of the industry on improving patient health.

“The partnership provides a powerful platform for getting important clinical and business information unique to specialty pharmacy into the hands of practitioners, payers and manufacturers who need it,” said Chris Hennessy, Specialty Pharmacy Times publisher.

About Specialty Pharmacy Times
Specialty Pharmacy Times is a bi-monthly journal and daily news website serving the business and practice of specialty pharmaceuticals and therapy and focusing on the key areas surrounding specialty pharmaceuticals and the enhanced practice needs of pharmacists in this arena. The journal is available on iPad and on http://www.SpecialtyPharmacyTimes.com. Articles are authored by leaders from all areas of specialty practice including administration, academia, policy, information systems, managed care, clinical practice, business management, nursing, and importantly, from pharmacists who interact with patients on a daily basis. Our readers include the payer community, specialty pharmaceuticals manufacturers, government, allied health care professionals and pharmacists. Specialty Pharmacy Times is published by Michael J. Hennessy Associates, Inc., a leading provider of health care publications, research, information and education.

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Media inquiries:
Please contact Becky Taylor, 609-240-6886, becky(at)btaylorpa(dot)com

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Becky Taylor
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