It’s Who You Know AND What You Know

Specialty Pharmacy TimesMarch/April 2017
Volume 8
Issue 2

Regardless of the quality of services offered by a specialty pharmacy, the inability to connect those services to the physician, payer, pharma organization, and patient make it difficult to be successful.

Relationships are the key to driving success in business. One can provide the best portfolio of services in specialty pharmacy; however, if they cannot connect those services to the physician, payer, pharma organization, and patient—the 4 Ps—it is difficult to be successful. To have a solid foundation in specialty, it is vital to have these 4 Ps serve as the pillars of success.

There are different approaches to developing relationships in the relatively small community of specialty pharmacy and products. In 2016, there were just 22 novel drug approvals by the FDA. In reviewing the list, all of these approvals would fall into the definition of a specialty product. What I found interesting is that none of these approvals are likely to find their way to the patient through traditional community pharmacy.

The message here is clear: the future of innovative products will be in specialty, and ultimately, reaching the patient through a combination of hospital, physician clinic, or specialty pharmacy. This is where the growth in the industry will occur. We are seeing exponential growth in specialty pharmacy, in both the clinic and hospital/institution settings. With the focus on cost containment, expect specialty pharmacies to be an expanding conduit through what we call “white and brown bagging” avenues.

Many of these products serve a small population of patients in various disease states, and the trend is continuing towards limited access to them. The importance of networking has never been more important, and access to decision makers is critical. There are a handful of specialty community pharmacy events that are critically important to build out your business network of contacts.

For nearly a decade now, Asembia has provided the premiere event to bring the best of the specialty industry together in an environment of educational and social events designed to raise the bar of our profession, along with opportunities to inform mutual stakeholders of your organizational capabilities. This annual event is the largest US health care conference focused on specialty pharmacy. It welcomes thousands of attendees from pharmacy providers, pharma/biotech manufacturers, payers, drug wholesalers, and many other specialty pharmacy stakeholder organizations.

During the 4-day meeting, attendees will gain an in-depth understanding of all aspects of the $150 billion specialty pharmacy channel. Be it Asembia, sPCMA, the annual National Association of Specialty Pharmacy (NASP) Meeting or a handful of other industry meetings, it is very important to have a presence and open doors for specialty pharmacy. In the December 2016 edition of Specialty Pharmacy Times®, we discussed the importance of having a solid game plan for success, while providing a list of target products with suggestions on what it may take to gain access to them.

Limited distribution products, as a rule, have services built in to their agreements. Manufacturers are always in attendance at these meetings, and looking to better understand the services provided by specialty pharmacy. Keep in mind that launch planning, prior to the FDA drug approval, is key. Get to know what is approved and what is in the pipeline, set your objectives for the meeting, and seek these folks out. We are well into the era in which a significant number of approvals will potentially be offered to a limited number of specialty pharmacies.

In our multimedia, social networking and email-driven business world, there is still nothing like a face-to-face meeting. With literally dozens of potential targets around every corner at Asembia, being efficient with your time and resources is just smart networking. In addition to networking, meetings such as Asembia are great places to stay ahead of the game on several key industry topics. Our very own Pharmacy Times Continuing Education® will have nearly 10 programs that will not only provide great educational opportunities, but also needed CE credits for specialty pharmacists. Those accredited programs will include an important session on standards in specialty pharmacy data.

This year, over the 4-day conference, there will be more than 100 different programs, 900+ companies, and more than 5000 people in attendance. There will be numerous networking opportunities, in addition to several hours of exhibitor time and social events. Keeping the patient in mind, this year will mark the first annual Specialty Pharmacy Patient Choice Award ceremony. Zitter Health Insights (ZHI), in a partnership with Specialty Pharmacy Times®, have agreed to collaborate in a Specialty Pharmacy Satisfaction Survey, which will recognize the top performing specialty pharmacies for their achievements in customer satisfaction.

With the recent lack of consumer and media understanding of the great work that specialty pharmacies perform, it is time that specialty pharmacies leverage information to highlight our services to patients, and raise the bar even higher in the industry. Specialty Pharmacy Times® and ZHI will publish and release the results of the survey in the first half of 2017, based upon research from 2016, to draw focus to a growing unmet need within the specialty industry.

In speaking to several payers and manufacturers at last year’s Asembia meeting, clearly, they felt the time is now to heighten the awareness around satisfaction through a peer-to-peer review of established standards. Look at satisfaction as a key element to assure your pharmacy obtains access to these 2 key business drivers. The Specialty Pharmacy Patient Choice Awards will recognize the hard work that specialty pharmacies perform on a daily basis, while quantifying each patient’s unique experience with their specialty pharmacy. â—†

MR. STEIBER formerly operated a consulting practice and was responsible for commercial operations and trade-supply chain strategy development. Mr. Steiber has served in several senior positions in pharmacy, distribution, and industry over the course of his 40-year career. Mr. Steiber is a licensed pharmacist in Texas, Washington, California, and Pennsylvania. He is affiliated with several professional associations and publications and 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 Highland Village, Texas.

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