December 12, 2013
A new national survey released today by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) finds physicians are highly satisfied with their specialty pharmacies, but are skeptical that most drugstores have the “expertise and capability” to provide the same medications to patients. Only 5 percent believe “all” drugstores are qualified to do so, according to the survey.
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. This has been a top legislative priority of the drugstore lobby.
“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.
North Star Opinion Research conducted the national survey of 500 physicians in the rheumatology, nephrology, infectious disease, oncology, and neurology specialties who prescribe specialty medications. Detailed results from the survey are below:
- Specialists say their patients already have access to specialty medications from a variety of sources. Thirty percent say their patients typically get their specialty medications from a specialty pharmacy, compared to 21 percent from a drugstore, 10 percent from a doctor’s office or practice, 8 percent from an outpatient clinic and 6 percent from a mail service pharmacy, with 22 percent saying patients get their medications from a combination of sources.
- Only five percent of the specialists who work with specialty pharmacies believe that all drugstores “have the expertise and capability to provide the different types of specialty medications to patients.” Five percent of these physicians say all traditional drugstores have the expertise and capability to provide these specialty drugs and 25 percent say most do, while 66 percent say some do and 2 percent say none.
- Specialists are overwhelmingly satisfied with the specialty pharmacies they work with. These specialists are satisfied with the services provided by specialty pharmacies by an 89 to 7 margin.
- Specialists think drug companies should offer discounts to individuals who can’t afford expensive specialty drugs, instead of making small businesses offer low copays to everyone. Only 35 percent of the specialists in these fields believe that small businesses should be required to have lower copays for expensive specialty medications, while 45 percent believe drug companies should be required to offer discounts to individuals who cannot afford the drugs.