What Are the Benefits, Challenges of Operating a Specialty Pharmacy Linked to a Retail Giant?

Rina Shah, PharmD, Vice President, Pharmacy Operations and Specialty Pharmacy, Walgreens, discusses how operating a specialty pharmacy associated with a retail pharmacy can be beneficial.

Shah: At Walgreens we have over 8100 stores where we can roll out programs that really meet the needs of our patients. We have stores that are located within 3 to 5 miles of patients, and so, if a patient goes back to their community we have the breadth of rolling out clinical tools to help they stay adherent. In addition to that, we also are able to get a lot more agility in what we want to offer. We have over 800 specialized pharmacies at Walgreens, and these specialized pharmacies are focused in on HIV and other disease states---again we have the breadth and the ability to get really deep into these disease states.

We also have at Walgreens, we have our local specialty states, over 250 of them, that are either located on a health systems campus or within a community location where they’re stand alone pharmacies. So we have the ability to be agile based on what’s actually needed in that community. And we have trainings and partnerships that allow us to go ahead and deliver tools for our pharmacy teams to take care of our patients.

From a risk standpoint, the industry is moving so fast so it’s really difficult sometimes because of how complex specialty can be to understand deeply what’s happening within that industry and relaying that across our footprint. What we’ve been able to do to tackle that is that we have an entire team that’s focused in on just specialty, and how can we make sure that we continue to meet our patients needs and our providers needs at our local specialty sites as well as our specialized pharmacies.