What to Expect from a Specialty Pharmacy Partner


Clinical education, strong data analytics, and valuing collaboration are the best ways to provide patient support and access to specialty pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Clinical education, strong data analytics, and valuing collaboration are the best ways to provide patient support and access to specialty pharmaceutical manufacturers, according to a panel session at the virtual National Association of Specialty Pharmacy 2020 Annual Meeting and Expo.

When asked to elaborate on partnering with specialty pharmaceutical manufacturers, Patti Weber, vice president of Client Services at ReCept Pharmacy, explained how clinical education is an area that specialty pharmacies excel at.

“They expect us to be very verse on disease state and therapy specific management,” Weber said. “We want to get through the process quickly, but with the intention of the best outcome.”

Weber said that strong data analytics that are factual are vital but need to be provided in a timely fashion and in formats that work for the manufacturer. Further into the value and actual data from the specialty pharmacy channel, Jenny Jackson, head of strategy at UCB, said actionable data are so critical, regardless of where the product is.

“Without actionable data, there is a lack of ability to pivot or course correct as necessary,” Jackson said.

As for the role of data analytics in the PBM and specialty pharmacy model and how it plays a role in patient management and specialty strategy, Ryan Atkinson, PharmD, MBA, senior director of Specialty Pharmacy Strategy at Maxor National Pharmacy Services, LLC, emphasized the importance of adherence for patients.

“If a patient doesn’t understand their drug or disease state that they have, adherence is not good,” Atkinson said. “Patients will discontinue their therapy because they weren’t expecting a specific outcome or side effect that could be easily mitigated if they understood their disease state.”

Even if the pharmacy benefit manager and specialty pharmacy are independent entities, they are able to work together to collect additional clinical information through algorithms about the patient and any trends on how the patient takes their medication, when it is refilled, and more, according to Atkinson.

When asked about what a “good” relationship looks like for a manufacturer and specialty pharmacy channel, Jackson said that setting expectations for a specialty product is important, but to also set expectations for the entire process.

“What can happen, should happen, or what we want to happen, along with safety nets for a seamless experience should be mapped out with all different touchpoints to see the patient experience,” Jackson said.

Atkinson added that collaboration, feedback, and exchange of what data is important really takes this relationship to the next level.

“It all comes down to the patient experience,” Atkinson said. “The patient needs a good, positive experience in order for them to stay adherent on their medication and to be successful in outcomes with the therapy they are on, which comes from the appropriate education and communication.”

As for the adaptive measures resulting from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that may be staying or leaving in the future, each panelist was optimistic about telemedicine even with their other doubts.

“Telehealth is a positive and I hope this area continues,” Jackson said. “However, what is unknown for manufacturers is how we can engage with prescribers in a post COVID-19 world.”

As for Atkinson, he sees more collaborations in the future and specialty pharmacies playing a larger role in patient education. However, issues surrounding fulfillment, patient’s mental health, and affordability are major concerns for the future.

In the end, Weber hopes that specialty pharmacies can focus on being prepared to move forward with the positives that may emerge during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I hope we can focus on all the good we can take from a really bad situation,” Weber said.


Atkinson R, Jackson J, Weber P. What to Expect from a Specialty Pharmacy Partner. Virtual NASP 2020 Annual Meeting and Expo. Presented September 18, 2020. Accessed September 18, 2020.

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