CVS Caremark's 'Specialty Connect' speaks to opportunities within fast-growing specialty market

CVS Caremark has officially taken the wraps off of its new Specialty Connect prescription services program and announced that the program is now available at all CVS/pharmacy locations. The importance of this new program is two-fold.

First of all, it serves as yet one more example of how the company is leveraging its unique assets to improve outcomes. By leveraging its network of 7,600 pharmacy locations and its specialty pharmacy resources, CVS Caremark is able to offer specialty patients greater flexibility and choice. This, in turn, equates to improved medication adherence.

Secondly, the program speaks to the opportunities that exist within the rapidly growing specialty market. The number of specialty products has nearly doubled in the last 10 years. It has been estimated that the market will grow to $235 billion in 2018, a 17% compound annual growth rate. At that point, the specialty pharmacy business will represent about 50% of the total drug spend. Meanwhile, drug prices have accelerated.

For CVS Caremark, specialty has become the No. 1 area of focus in pharmacy for its payer customers.

“With specialty expenditures growing some 15% to 20% annually, our payers are increasingly focused on controlling the specialty trend. And with about 50% of the specialty spend expected to flow through the medical benefit by 2018, our payers are increasingly looking to their PBM to help manage this portion of spend as well, which they could all agree, historically has been largely unmanaged,” CVS Caremark president and CEO Larry Merlo told analysts during the company’s Analyst Day in December.

Merlo added that CVS Caremark has more than 20% share of the specialty market, with more than $20 million in specialty revenues, either filled or managed across its enterprise.

But it should be noted that CVS Caremark isn’t the only pharmacy retailer placing a greater emphasis on specialty.

On Thursday, Fred’s Super Dollar CEO Bruce Efird said that during the first quarter, its “EIRIS Health Services, Fred's specialty pharmacy division, added several new team members and experienced solid script and sales growth, as we continue to accelerate our penetration of this fast-expanding segment of the pharmacy industry.”

Also during the week, the American Associated Pharmacies, a member-owned national cooperative of independent pharmacies, announced that it is launching a specialty pharmacy program through a partnership with Diplomat. Through the partnership, Diplomat’s Retail Specialty Network will provide AAP members with back-end clinical services and care management.


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