Employers prefer specialty pharmacies for costs, pharmacist access

February 14, 2014

Employers believe specialty pharmacies provide better access to pharmacists and lower costs for specialty drugs, according to a recent survey by Pharmacy Benefits Management Institute.

Employers believe specialty pharmacies provide better access to pharmacists and lower costs for specialty drugs, according to a recent survey by Pharmacy Benefits Management Institute.

Walgreens sponsored the survey, 2014 PBMI Specialty Drug Report, which collected responses from 337 employers in the United States representing 14.3 million people.

More survey respondents (68.7% versus 4.2%) said specialty pharmacies provide more pharmacist interaction than retail pharmacies do.

Additionally, more respondents (56.7% versus 9.9%) credited specialty pharmacies with having lower prices than retail pharmacies.

“I was struck by the results on employer perceptions of pharmacy outlets for specialty drugs. Employers think specialty pharmacies provide better pharmacist access and lower costs,” Adam J. Fein, CEO of Drug Channels Institute wrote on his blog. “However, they also think retail pharmacies are comparable for clinical services-and that surprised me.”

 

A slightly higher percentage of respondents (32.8% versus 31.3%) said retail pharmacies did a better job of accessing copayment programs. There wasn’t much difference when it came to offering clinical programs; with 26.3% of respondents crediting specialty pharmacies as better, 18.8% thinking retail pharmacies are better, and 24.8% believing they are equal.

“The specialty/retail pharmacy distinction is blurring, because many drugstores are chasing the specialty market opportunity,” Fein wrote. “Perception may not match reality, but expect these comparisons to become more common.”