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SDPA Fall 2016 Live Blog

SDPA Fall | Live Blog | Navigating and Understanding Specialty Pharmacy Models

During a session on the third day of the SDPA’s 14th Annual Fall Dermatology Conference, Dr. Kevin Belasco, DO, MS explained that specialty pharmacies were created to provide access to medications for chronic or rare conditions, and distribution of medications from a specialty pharmacy is typically through mail. In dermatology, specialty pharmacies are often helpful in dispensing injectable and oral agents (e.g. biologics) that patients may not be able to attain easily otherwise. It is imperative to keep in mind, that “unless the patient can get a medication and get it quickly and affordably, patients are not going to get their medications filled”, stated Dr. Belasco. He reiterated that it all comes down to access for the patient.

Independent specialty pharmacies are among the fastest growing companies in the US. Finding a specialty pharmacy that will work within your practice can help ensure the best access for your patients and possibly improve efficiency in office flow. Dr. Belasco added insurance companies are sometimes the deciding factor on utilizing a specialty pharmacy.
Dr. Belasco went on to discuss brand name versus generic medications. He highlighted the difference between the two in dermatology often comes down to the vehicle (e.g. emollient cream) in which the active ingredient is found. This can make a difference for patients in their tolerability and efficacy of the medication. If is a medication is inefficient and intolerable, patients will not be compliant. Of note, brand name medications can be less expensive than generic medications with coupon benefits.

One downfall of utilizing a specialty pharmacy is that payment is often by phone and patients may be uncomfortable paying for medications prior to delivery. Additionally, specialty pharmacies may not be able to deliver a medication immediately and a specialty pharmacy may not be aware of patient’s other medications and as such cannot check for medication interactions.

In summary, benefits of using a specialty pharmacy for a patient include time savings, multiple medication fulfillment, cost savings, case management and free delivery. Furthermore, specialty pharmacies often assist with appeals of rejected medications.


Byline: Sarah Patton, PA-C, MSHS

Posted: November 6, 2016

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