NASP Writes Open Letter to Donald Trump Advocating for Specialty Pharmacy Services

National Association of Specialty Pharmacy emphasizes work with manufacturers, prescribers and payers to ensure the availability of specialty medications and services that ensure optimal patient outcomes.

Dear President-Elect Donald J. Trump,

On behalf of the National Association of Specialty Pharmacy (NASP), I am writing to congratulate you on your victory on November 8. As you put together your agenda, your cabinet and the rest of your governing team, NASP stands ready to work with you to ensure that the Nation’s health care system remains the strongest in the world.

While there are clearly areas in need of improvement, we are enthusiastic about working with you to help strengthen and improve healthcare delivery with the needs of patients and their caregivers top of mind.

NASP represents the nation’s leading specialty pharmacies, their pharmaceutical suppliers, group purchasing organization, wholesale distributors and other companies and executives involved in the delivery of cutting edge specialty medications. With over 100 corporate members, from large national pharmacy chains to several independent specialty pharmacies, and 1600 professionals, NASP serves as the unified voice of specialty pharmacy in the United States.

Our association is dedicated to education, policy advocacy and engagement of all stakeholders in the specialty pharmacy industry. And, because our members’ patients frequently suffer from rare diseases, the drugs they need often require unique handling, administration and management that is best offered by a specialty pharmacy. Our members do not simply dispense medicines — they dispense care.

During the campaign, there was considerable focus on the cost of prescription medicines. Many Americans are having difficulty affording the drugs they need and those that their doctors prescribe.

This is of particular interest to our organization, since it is estimated that specialty medications could represent 50% of total drug spending in five years. This growth reflects the importance of specialty medications as innovative and leading treatment options for both prescribers and their patients.

In the context of this discussion, we want to remind you that specialty pharmacies do not establish prices for specialty drugs. Rather, NASP members work with manufacturers, prescribers and payers to ensure the availability of specialty medications and pharmacy services that are required to ensure optimal patient outcomes.

In addition, we would emphasize that while specialty pharmacies are fully state licensed like any other pharmacy, they also must meet higher standards and conditions. These requirements include accreditation by independent third party quality organizations such as URAC, the Accreditation Commission for Health Care, The Joint Commission, or the Center for Pharmacy Practice Accreditation.

These entities provide verification of the quality and capabilities of specialty pharmacies and ensure that patients receive the medicines and care that they need. With regard to the affordability of prescription drugs, you should know that specialty pharmacies routinely help their patients through active education and outreach to public and private patient assistance foundations and other sources of financial assistance.

This is part the full service of care that specialty pharmacies offer to patients, and is one reason that patients and providers have turned to our industry in recent years. We believe it is also important to remember that prescription drugs offer great value.

While it is true that they are sometimes expensive, today’s modern specialty medicines treat conditions that in the past were untreatable, and too often fatal. Now, after years of research and testing, more and more patients can be confident that doctors have treatment options available that will improve their quality of life, and extend their days.

And, these medicines not only help patients get well and stay well, but they can also prevent more costly and invasive care that is rendered in hospitals or doctors’ offices. Finally, as you consider how your Administration will address prescription drug issues, we would urge you to carefully consider the role of pharmacy benefit management (PBM) companies.

These large entities stand between patients and their care providers -- including specialty pharmacies -- establishing complex rules, extracting additional fees and often placing limits on patient choice and access. All of these activities come with a cost.

Since PBMs play such a significant role in the financing and coverage of prescription drugs, including taxpayer-funded programs like Medicare Part D, we urge your Administration, as one of its first orders of business, to carefully explore the role of the PBM industry. As health experts agree that the nation should move toward a more transparent and collaborative system, a fuller understanding of the role of PBMs is simply a must.

Thank you for your consideration of our views. Like you, our goal is to make sure that our Nation’s citizens enjoy unfettered access to the highest quality health care products, services and care available. Congratulations again on your campaign victory.

We are confident that the nation will be in good hands under your leadership and we stand ready to assist you in any way that we can.

Burt ZweigenhaftPresident of the BoardNational Association of Specialty Pharmacy