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Helping independents compete in specialty pharmacy, Cardinal Health launches new suite of services at RBC 2013


SEATTLE — By now, even a quick look at drug companies' product pipelines and patient demographics should make it clear that specialty drugs are where it's at.

According to pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts, the market for drugs used to treat complex, rare and serious conditions like cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, autoimmune disorders and rare genetic diseases is set to grow by 67% by the end of 2015.

With that in mind, Cardinal Health announced Friday the launch of the Specialty Pharmacy Alliance, a new suite of services designed to make it easier for community pharmacies to improve patients' access to specialty drugs and adherence to them. Specialty drugs usually require specialized handling, dispensing, administration and patient counseling, and adherence to prescribed therapies is critical for patients. The medications are often described as high-cost and high-touch because of the clinical and financial complexities of the therapies. That means specialty pharmacy is a lot of work not just for patients, but also for the pharmacies serving them.

"Recognizing that very few in this room have the desire, capital and risk tolerance to create a specialty pharmacy, Cardinal Health has endeavored to provide an alternative," Cardinal Health Pharmaceutical Segment president for U.S. pharmaceutical distribution Jon Giacomin said in a speech Friday at Cardinal's Retail Business Conference in Seattle. "At RBC, we are introducing a specialty drug solution called Cardinal Health Specialty Pharmacy Alliance. Contracting with Specialty Pharmacy Alliance gives you the ability to dispense specialty prescriptions in those cases where you are eligible to purchase the medication."

Cardinal Health does this through its Maryland-based, URAC-accredited specialty pharmacy, OncoSource Rx. It’s staffed by certified pharmacists and technicians, every day of the year, around the clock, and the services it offers are available to any retail pharmacy in the United States. The pharmacy's team can manage prior authorization and co-pay assistance to help patients navigate the process of approval by their pharmacy benefit manager; dispense specialty drugs and adjudicate related claims, including dispensing drugs available only through limited-distribution networks but not through retail pharmacies; help pharmacies fulfill patient prescriptions at the local level; provide individualized patient care coordination, including training on self-administration and management of complex adherence guidelines; and work with the patient, physician and PBM to order and process refills.

"Specialty Pharmacy Alliance aims to enhance the relationship between patients and their community pharmacies," Giacomin said. "Our goal is to make it easier for retail pharmacies to provide their patients with convenient access to specialty medications and related support while also reinforcing their role as their community's most accessible, most trusted local healthcare resource."

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