Asembia 2017: A Look Back and a Peek Ahead

Specialty Pharmacy Times, 2017 Asembia Recap, Volume 8, Issue 4

Value-based care and direct and indirect remuneration fees among the hottest topics at annual summit.

The Asembia Specialty Pharmacy Summit is the time of year where stakeholders across all continuums of specialty care gather in Las Vegas, to mix and mingle with colleagues and partners, entertain key clients, and gain insights into trends and market movement in this ever-changing industry.

It has become THE place to be in specialty, and this year was no exception. I’ve had the pleasure of attending the summit since the early days, when there were a mere 100 attendees and 5 exhibitors. Just as Arnold Schwarzenegger (this year’s keynote speaker) is famous for saying, “I’ll be back,” clearly, so did the industry leaders in specialty, as more than 5000 attended Asembia this year.

From health systems to manufacturers and from investment bankers to payers, all attendees benefited from the diverse topics, increased exhibit times, and firsthand access to the latest market intelligence in specialty. Whether attendees were there to shuffle from booth to booth to hear an impactful pitch from a new potential partner, or just attempting to understand their value in this dynamic ecosystem, one thing was clear: the energy and interest in specialty is far from waning.

Although there were plenty more, here are a few key highlights: • Specialty Pharmacy Times® and Zitter Health Insights co-sponsored the inaugural Specialty Pharmacy Patient Choice Awards™, with US Specialty Care named the winner in the PBM/Payer Specialty Pharmacy category, and PANTHERx Specialty Pharmacy named the winner in the non-PBM/Payer Specialty Pharmacy category.

• The topic of direct and indirect remuneration fees (DIR) invaded every conversation and continues to cause many executives in the industry sleepless nights.

• The summit went high tech with new bracelets to access the meetings.

• There was an increased presence from health systems attending the summit, as they look to further develop patient-centric solutions.

• Many retailers are scrambling to see if there is still time to pivot and add specialty, not only to their name, but their offerings, just as the venture world is trying to find the scent of anyone looking to sell.

• Value-based reimbursement was the buzz throughout the hallways, although the evolution and development will take time and trial to find success.

• Many independents are searching for ways to optimize success, as payers continue to lock them out of networks.

• Data are still touted as king, yet interoperability seems light-years away.

• Rare and orphan drugs were a central theme in most sessions. At an average treatment cost of $140,000 and with more than 150 novel treatments in the pipeline, the compounded annual growth rate of the specialty pharmacy world will continue to skyrocket.

• More legal firms were in attendance due to increased payer litigation, mergers and acquisition activity, and an overall interest in being part of the $200 billion specialty rocket ship.

• Many more solutions providers are exhibiting their wares with a focus on care protocols, patient engagement, and tools to increase and improve outcomes.

• The attendees are hungry for insights on health care systems, limited distribution strategies, and the payer world, as witnessed by the packed sessions on the Sunday opening day (another first by Asembia that had mixed feedback and may not be back next year).

Next on the calendar for the industry, will be the National Association of Specialty Pharmacy’s Annual Meeting and Expo, from September 18 to 20, 2017, in Washington, DC. It will be interesting to see how the marketplace addresses the DIR issues, how the Affordable Care Act pivots, and how Congress responds to increased pressure from across the country to come up with solutions about the high costs of drugs.

We look forward to seeing you in DC!