The Asembia Specialty Pharmacy Summit Returns

Specialty Pharmacy Times2017 Asembia Recap
Volume 8
Issue 4

The first of 2 showcase events in the specialty space brings thousands of stakeholders from pharmacies, manufacturers, and service providers.

If you are in the specialty pharmacy space, there are 2 major annual can’t miss-events: the Asembia Specialty Pharmacy Summit and the National Association of Specialty Pharmacy (NASP) Annual Meeting and Educational Conference. These meetings are strategically spaced out, occurring every May and September, respectively. The Asembia—formerly known as Armada—summit, has become the largest meeting in our space, and it was perfectly situated at the Wynn and Encore hotels in Las Vegas from April 30 to May 3 this year.

The planning group made sure that there were plenty of places to meet, while dozens more meetings were held in private suites throughout the facilities. There were more than 5000 attendees, with just the right mix of business, education, and social/networking functions, in addition to nearly 100 educational seminars spaced over the 4-day event.


It seems like the summit’s attendance increases every year. It has now stretched across the investor community, technology, distributors, and anything and everything that touches the specialty channel.

Despite some of the hot issues that come with an emerging industry—such as direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees and limited distribution products—all sides came together in the spirit of our beloved profession. The summit’s exhibit floor has grown immensely, becoming the focal point for many interactions among specialty pharmacies, pharma, and service providers. It’s been fun to watch this element of Asembia grow from a small handful of booths to a full-blown trade show event.

Hot Topics

Three speakers­­—Adam Fein, PhD, of Pembroke Consulting, Inc; Doug Long, of Quintiles IMS; and Eric Percher, of Barclays­—kicked off the event and outlined several emerging trends for specialty. In a follow-up post on his Drug Channels blog [], Dr Fein noted several themes that were at the forefront of the summit, including

• A battle for control of the specialty market and patient experience among pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), pharmacies, wholesalers, health plans, and providers.

• Manufacturer specialty networks are becoming larger and more inclusive.

• The continued migration of channel control from manufacturers to PBMs and payers.

• Consolidation of specialty pharmacies due to evolving economics.

• The emergence of more organized channels as a result of new ownership and partnerships.

If you are in pharmacy, specialty or otherwise, DIR fees are a growing issue that represents a significant concern among stakeholders. DIR fees have hit specialty even harder due to the high cost of product, combined with highly competitive reimbursement rates to gain network access to payers. There were many presenters who discussed the topic, while the exhibit hall this year featured a half-dozen legal firms, all of whom were eager to support clients in their quest to reduce or eliminate DIR fees.

Specialty Pharmacy Patient Choice Awards

Keeping the patient in mind, this year marked the first annual Specialty Pharmacy Patient Choice Award™ ceremony, held in a first-class setting thanks to the MJH Live Events team. Zitter Health Insights (ZHI) conducted the survey, while the Specialty Pharmacy Times® team assisted with the event. The ZHI survey was designed to identify and recognize the top-performing specialty pharmacies for their achievements in customer satisfaction. It was a good first start and will continue to improve over time.

With the slow-to-improve lack of consumer and media understanding of the great work that specialty pharmacies perform, it was time for specialty pharmacies to leverage information that highlights their services to patients, raising the bar even higher in the industry. The award is about recognizing the patient’s choice, first and foremost, with a focus on excellence. The awards were judged in 2 categories, PBM/Payer Specialty Pharmacy and Non-PBM/Payer Specialty Pharmacy, with US Specialty Care and PANTHERx Specialty Pharmacy, respectively, receiving top honors.

We will be out again in full force at the NASP annual meeting this fall in Washington, DC, September 18 to 20. The 5th Annual NASP Meeting will provide comprehensive information regarding all aspects of specialty pharmacy, including the evolution of the market, impact of specialty pharmacy on patients, and national legislative and regulatory policy.

The meeting will also offer a Specialty Pharmacy Law Conference, continuing education credits to attendees, and a 1-day preparation course for pharmacists studying for October examinations given by the Specialty Pharmacy Certification Board for Certified Specialty Pharmacist certification. 

For more information, visit

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