Physicians Say Some Pharmacies Lack Expertise to Dispense Specialty Drugs

A survey of physicians who prescribe specialty medications released by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association found that they were skeptical that all traditional pharmacies were capable of dispensing specialty medications.

A survey of physicians who prescribe specialty medications released by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association found that they were skeptical that all traditional pharmacies were capable of dispensing specialty medications.

A majority of physicians are highly satisfied with specialty pharmacies, but just a small handful feel that all traditional drugstores are qualified to dispense specialty medications, a recent survey finds.

The national online survey included responses from 500 rheumatologists, nephrologists, oncologists, neurologists, and infectious disease specialists who prescribe specialty medications. Respondents were randomly selected from a list of physicians from Survey Sampling International and were asked about their use of and satisfaction with specialty pharmacies. The survey results were released by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association on December 12, 2013, and the survey was conducted by North Star Opinion Research from November 6 to 20, 2013.

The results indicated that specialists frequently use specialty pharmacies and are largely satisfied with their experiences with them. Respondents said their patients accessed specialty medications from a variety of sources, with 30% saying their patients usually received their drugs from a specialty pharmacy, 21% from a drugstore, 10% from a physician’s office, 8% from an outpatient clinic, and 6% from a mail order pharmacy. In addition, 22% said that their patients used a combination of these sources to obtain their specialty medications.

Of the physicians included in the survey, 89% said they were satisfied with the specialty pharmacies’ services, and 7% said they were unsatisfied. Only 5% of these specialists felt that all traditional drugstores “have the expertise and capability to provide the different types of specialty medications to patients.” Approximately one-fourth of physicians who work with specialty pharmacies said that most traditional drugstores were qualified to dispense specialty medications, 66% said only some were qualified, and 2% said none were.

Physicians who prescribe specialty medications also said that drug companies should offer discounts to patients who cannot afford the therapies, rather than forcing small businesses to offer lower copays. Just 35% of respondents indicated that small businesses should lower copays for expensive specialty drugs, while 45% said drug companies should be required to offer discounts to those who have trouble paying for their medications.