A Little Bit of Everything?

Specialty Pharmacy Times, November 2011, Volume 2, Issue 4

At the heart of specialty pharmacy is pharmacy. We most often think of patients as being the centerpiece of the profession—and they are. Another significant truth, however, is that even the most successful patient-focused specialty pharmacies must have great businesspeople supporting them, driving the enterprise. Specialty pharmacy is both a profession and a business and one cannot fully exist in the absence of the other. The most entrepreneurial of businesses require this best of both worlds. In this month’s edition of Specialty Pharmacy Times, we take a more holistic approach and touch on a broad spectrum of topics.

Our cover feature article gets to the core of the operation—the education and training of the pharmacist and other health care professionals. Our schools today are producing strong candidates as generalists in the profession, but will they be prepared for the rigors of specialty pharmacy? Will they have the expertise and training to be impactful with the emerging therapies upon graduation? What should a specialty pharmacy curriculum look like? We profile what is going on in academia and offer a challenge to specialty pharmacies to serve as a training ground to further the interests of our profession. Colleges of pharmacy must do their part, but so must industry on several fronts.

Following up on our special oncology edition (May 2011) is the second part of “Oncology Drug Management,” where we look at significant trends in patient care. Payers are taking a closer look at oncology on several fronts, including:

  • Evidence-based criteria
  • The use of electronic communication
  • Implementing preferred agent strategies
  • Ensuring that oral oncology drugs are managed through specialty pharmacy
  • Using scientific advisory boards

Dave Suchanek, our world-class expert on the topic, gives us keen insight into “Fair Market Value, Part 2—Embracing the Practice,” with ideas on how our specialty pharmacy business can rationalize charges for specific services offered to industry, and on the other side, how industry can assess the value of those bona fide services offered by specialty. He offers some strong suggestions and a long list of questions that must be asked to validate the process and the necessary analytics for a comprehensive host of services. Dave’s suggestions have proved to be very successful and are viewed by many as the new standard for specialty pharmacy services. A number of contracting strategies emerge from his piece that our readers can put into practice today.

Following up on the theme of entrepreneurialism and bringing specialty pharmacy back to its roots at the local level, Nick Calla offers a number of keen insights into how community pharmacy can participate more in the space. Many of his suggestions center on how, by working closely with managed care, community pharmacies can create networks of specialty providers. Specialty pharmacy started in the community and his plan looks to bring it back.

Dan Steiber, RPh, is a principal of D2 Pharma Consulting LLC and is responsible for commercial operations, trade-supply chain strategy development including 3PL selection, regulatory oversight, and “operationalizing” organizations. Mr. Steiber has served in several senior positions in pharmacy, distribution, and industry over the course of his 35-year career. Mr. Steiber is a licensed pharmacist in Texas, Washington, California, and Pennsylvania. He is affiliated with several professional associations and publications and is a frequent speaker on behalf of many professional organizations. Mr. Steiber graduated from Washington State University College of Pharmacy. He has participated in a variety of postgraduate programs in law and business development/ marketing at Harvard University and Northwestern University. Mr. Steiber currently resides in Plano, Texas, with his wife and 2 sons. Specialty pharmacy is both a profession and a business, and one cannot fully exist in the absence of the other.