Oncologist Survey Suggests Traditional Drugstores Lack Expertise With Specialty Medications

Tony Berberabe, MPH @OncBiz_Wiz
Published: Friday, Dec 13, 2013

Oncologists and other specialists who prescribe specialty medications are highly satisfied with their specialty pharmacy, but that satisfaction doesn’t translate to some traditional drugstores. The 500 participating specialists were skeptical that “all” drugstores had the "expertise and capability" to provide the same medications to patients, according to a survey issued by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), a trade association that represents pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).  

In fact, only 5% of these physicians say “all” traditional drugstores have the expertise and capability to provide these specialty drugs; 25% say most traditional drugstores do, while 66% say some do and 2% say none do. Survey respondents were made up of rheumatology, nephrology, infectious disease, oncology, and neurology specialists.

The survey revealed that patients obtained their specialty medications from a variety of sources: 30% from a specialty pharmacy, 21% from a drugstore, 10% from a physician’s office or practice, 8% from an outpatient clinic, and 6% using mail order.

The PCMA noted that some state legislatures are considering new “Any Willing Specialty Pharmacy” mandates that would force employers to contract with any drugstore that wants to dispense complex specialty medications, regardless of its qualifications.

“When it comes to providing drug benefits to those with chronic illnesses, patient safety is the top priority. It’s wrong to make employer and union health plans contract with drugstores that may not be qualified to dispense complex biologic medicines,” said PCMA President and CEO Mark Merritt in a news release.

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