Magazine article Drug Topics

Independents Launch First Specialty Pharmacy Network

Magazine article Drug Topics

Independents Launch First Specialty Pharmacy Network

Article excerpt

If you were to ask any one of the seven founding members of the Community Specialty Pharmacy Network (CSPN) to sum up their mission, you'd undoubtedly get the same answer from all seven-to be able to provide specialty medications from their community pharmacies.

As the largest community specialty network in the country, CSPN, launched in February, is designed to provide a distribution channel for specialty medications to better meet the needs of a growing healthcare consumer base. This base is made up of patients who, according to founding CSPN members, have been driven away from their community pharmacies to mail order because of the lack of availability of certain, highly specialized medications locally.

"Our framework will be made up of network stores across the country that are accredited by one organization, specializing in specific disease states," explained Nick Karalis, R.Ph., of Elwyn Pharmacy in Media, Pa., who serves as the group's VP. To further enhance CSPN's initiatives, network members will use a Web-based software system to uniformly collect and report data.

To achieve this arrangement, CSPN is partnering with manufacturers, wholesalers, and group purchasing organizations (GPOs) to leverage pricing, rebates, and clinical service fees and with the National Community Pharmacists Association to provide member education. AU affiliated stores will be accredited and trained by third-party organizations. "NCPA has partnered with us to educate.and accredit our members on specific disease states. This will provide a third-party stamp of approval," continued Karalis.

The GPO partnership, still in negotiations, will help the group establish a special class of trade for the network and "provide more than a traditional retail pharmacy establishment," noted Karalis. "We will collect and customize the data, provide extra training for our pharmacist members, and perform refill reminders."

Data collected by the Web-based software tools include information on side effects, disease progression, demographics, utilization, and compliance that will be used by manufacturers and payers. Initially, the group will focus on seven disease states: infertility, HIV, hepatitis, oncology, arthritis, anemia, and psoriasis.

Ed Dillon, R.Ph., CEO/president of CSPN, said the need for such a network at this time was obvious. In discussions with community pharmacists in his own area, "we found that there were stores doing tremendous volumes in specialty meds based on their own efforts," said Dillon, now retired after selling his Washington, D. …

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