Are We Ready for Tomorrow?

Specialty Pharmacy TimesAugust 2011
Volume 2
Issue 3

Tracking tough questions- does bigger mean better? How will pharmacies compete in the future? And what do the key trends mean for you?

We at Specialty Pharmacy Times want our readers to be prepared for the future of our business and profession. So who has the proverbial crystal ball? In this month’s publication, Bill Martin discusses the “Eight Mega Trends Shaping the Future of Specialty Pharmacy.”

I’d add a 9th trend—the potential of the “Mega Specialty Pharmacy.” The Mega Bombshell in the specialty space is the potential of 2 giants coming together with the announced merger of Medco and Express Scripts. Both of these PBMs own vertically integrated, well-established specialty pharmacies—Accredo and Curascript, respectively. The potential combination of these 2 businesses has received the attention of a consortium of specialty operators through the Independent Specialty Pharmacy Coalition (ISPC), as well as pharmacy associations. Time and the FTC will decide the outcome of this deal, but clearly a new playing field may emerge—if this merger is approved.

So with the advent of the Mega Specialty Pharmacy, some folks may ask the follow questions: How will pharmacies compete in the future? Does bigger mean “better”? Who determines what is “better”? Is it “better patient outcomes” or “better price”?

I’ll venture a 10th trend, which may very well be the growing standard of accreditation in specialty pharmacy. In the specialty pharmacy world, we have many definitions that are generally acceptable, but few established standards, either as determined by the payers, patients, providers, or boards of pharmacy, around specialty. Four of the most commonly seen specialty pharmacy accreditation programs are from Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC;, URAC (www.urac. org), The Joint Commission (TJC;, and Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP; URAC accreditation appears to be the front runner and is often mentioned in RFPs from network providers and manufacturers seeking specialty pharmacy services.

With accreditation, the playing field of specialty gets leveled—“better” now has metrics that are more generally accepted in the marketplace. Standards get established and specialty pharmacies can establish points of performance that potentially separate them from one another. These become negotiating points, and clusters of specialty pharmacies can be developed with “co-opetition”—driving access to products and managed care plans.

If you are thinking of jumping into specialty pharmacy, you will need to consider making the investment up front with accreditation. Find the right areas of alignment and your competition down the street may end up being your best partner through collaborative practice. In today’s virtual world, systems can build business bridges without bricks and mortar. Think “outside of the box” and that box may be the 4 walls of your new pharmacy.

We welcome your feedback on this topic and on any topics you would like us to cover in future editions of Specialty Pharmacy Times. Please reach out to me at We also encourage you and your colleagues to subscribe to this unique journal by logging on to Also, watch for us on iPad, coming soon!

Mr. Steiber is a principal of D2 Pharma Consulting LLC (d2rx. com) and is responsible for commercial operations, trade-supply chain strategy development including 3PL selection, regulatory oversight, and “operationlizing”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. With accreditation, the playing field of specialty gets leveled.

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