Specialty pharmacy may mean more targeted and individualized patient care, but its appeal in the pharmacy industry is anything but narrow.
“The specialty market's growth is drawing more and more pharmacies into this business,” said Adam Fein, PhD, president of Pembroke Consulting and chief executive officer of the Drug Channels Institute. “Any pharmacy that is not trying to position for the specialty pharmacy business is setting itself up for failure.”
Nearly every sector of the healthcare industry includes specialty pharmacies. They range from independent enterprises to those owned by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and health plans, to those based in hospitals or chains. As for their future prospects: Industry observers say that specialty pharmacy will only continue to grow.
According to the 2013-2014 Economic Report on Retail, Mail, and Specialty Pharmacies developed by Fein, specialty pharmaceuticals worth an estimated $63 billion were dispensed in 2013 by retail, mail-order, and specialty pharmacies.
In addition, the report stated, specialty drugs now account for approximately 22% of total pharmacy industry revenues.
"We are in the middle of a specialty pharmacy gold rush," Fein said. "Traditional retail pharmacies face brand-new competition from health plans, wholesalers, physician practices, and hospital systems, in addition to competition from the existing specialty pharmacies. Everyone wants to be in this business, so it's really a matter of getting in, in some way, as quickly as possible."