AS the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to present challenges and flu season arrives, specialty pharmacy is pushing forward. The National Association of Specialty Pharmacy (NASP) is among many professional organizations that have met the unique circumstances of 2020 head-on with adaptation and innovation.

The annual NASP conference has become a can’t-miss event for specialty stakeholders to stay abreast of rapid developments in the field, offering opportunities to meet with key opinion leaders. Although NASP was unable to hold this year’s meeting in person with specialty pharmacy professionals, the association gathered its membership in a unique digital space instead.

The NASP 2020 Annual Meeting & Expo Virtual Experience offered a new dynamic: 5 days of educational sessions, networking opportunities, posters, an online exhibit hall, and other elements, all addressing the needs of specialty pharmacy while adapting to limitations set by the pandemic. In this issue of Directions in Specialty Pharmacy™, we present a comprehensive recap of NASP’s virtual annual meeting, held September 14 to 18, 2020.

One of the keynote speakers, NFL legend Jim Kelly, delivered a poignant, timely message to meeting attendees about the value of perseverance. He spoke about tough challenges he has faced, including his son’s rare disease and death. These difficulties taught him resilience and prepared him for a battle with squamous cell carcinoma. Kelly's story is on page 26.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also brought increased attention to telehealth services and their importance in serving patients unable to visit a pharmacy or other care providers. We address key telehealth issues for concerned pharmacists, such as ongoing prescriber verification challenges and the need for a universal patient identifier, on page 9.

In another NASP meeting session, expert panelists shared on-the-job lessons they’ve learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite obstacles and some weaknesses revealed by the pandemic, these experts also see opportunity for lasting changes that may be beneficial to specialty pharmacy. An article on page 18 highlights the insights from this session.

In addition to issues related to the pandemic, the NASP meeting featured an overview of the specialty pharmacy pipeline, state-of-care sessions for different conditions, an update on 340B drug pricing, continuing education topics for various disease states and medications, and many other discussions of interest to pharmacists.

You can stay on top of the latest developments in specialty pharmacy on our daily news website at www.PharmacyTimes.com. Follow us on social media channels and through our e-newsletters (sign up at pharmacytimes.org/signup) to assure your pharmacy is prepared to prosper in these challenging times.