Future of specialty pharmacy discussed at Drug Store News' Specialty Pharmacy Roundtable

NEW YORK — Leaders in specialty pharmacy gathered in New York on Tuesday at the New York Athletic Club to attend the second annual Specialty Pharmacy Roundtable discussion presented by Drug Store News and Armada Health Care.

David Galardi, co-founder of Apogenics Inc., moderated the robust panel, which was comprised of Nick Calla of Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy, John Musil of The Apothecary Shops, Tim Kaplan of Amber Pharmacy, Jeanne Ann Stasny of Walmart Specialty Pharmacy and Albert Thigpen of CVS Caremark, among others.

The lively discussion addressed an array of topics ranging from product innovation to market access trends and the continued evolution of risk evaluation and mitigation strategies [REMs], to how healthcare reform might impact specialty pharmacy.

The session kicked off with a focus on innovation, namely what therapeutic areas are migrating from the retail sector to the specialty pharmacy sector. In response to this, Burt Zweigenhaft, CEO of OncoMed, said he has noticed a focus on specialization.

“What I’m seeing is specialization in the disease. If it is a high-cost disease and there’s a drug to treat that disease that’s where I believe manufacturers are moving those drugs into specialty distribution because they get more accountability and better control over data. … Instead of being a generalist, the manufacturers are looking for a specialist and that’s why I focus on one disease today,” said Zweigenhaft of OncoMed, which is focused on providing oncology pharmacy services.

When asked about those therapeutic areas that are catching the eye of specialty pharmacy, several panelists were quick to point to mental health and personalized medications.

Healthcare reform and its potential impact on specialty pharmacy also was a topic of discussion.

“In the next two years, what we are going to see is a decrease in the amount of funds that they offer to Medicaid programs in each state. … Yes, we are going to be impacted. Anywhere from 24 million to 50 million new lives will enter into the marketplace. The problem is that there aren’t enough physicians to take over that care,” said John Musil, CEO of The Apothecary Shops.

Added Nick Saraniti, COO of Commcare Pharmacy, “I think that most Medicaid states will not only be under-funded but will be pushing more Medicaid patients into those programs than we ever had before because part of healthcare reform changes the federal poverty level guidelines of eligibility into those programs.”

Sponsors included Teva Neuroscience, Takeda and Endo Pharmaceuticals.

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