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Independents seek access to lucrative specialty Rx market

BY David Salazar

LAS VEGAS  — Specialty pharmacy is the fastest-growing area of the pharmaceutical industry, according to IMS Health. Driven largely by new brand growth, specialty pharmacy spending in the retail channel was up 32.7% to a moving annual total of $67.5 billion through June 2015, with 49.8 million prescriptions dispensed. According to IMS Health, specialty medications accounted for 33% of the drug spend in 2014, up from 23% in 2009, making specialty pharmacy more appealing to community pharmacy.

Whether its pharmacogenomics, orphan drug therapies or the recent launch of the first U.S. biosimilar, specialty pharmacy is where a lot of the action is happening in the pharmacy industry. And though community pharmacy has the potential to be a source for these complex and expensive medications, independents can face an access barrier created by manufacturers — one that AmerisourceBergen is looking to eliminate for Good Neighbor Pharmacy members.

“A number of manufacturers and a number of payers have looked at initiatives to limit and restrict access to [specialty] products to a limited number of providers, often mail-order pharmacies for example,” Peyton Howell, AmerisourceBergen’s Executive Vice President and President of Global Sourcing and Manufacturer Relations, told Drug Store News. “Our team is working directly with manufacturers to really be able to explain the value of keeping that patient where they get the rest of their care [and] get the rest of their prescriptions.”

The importance of community pharmacy’s ability to improve outcomes among patients requiring specialty drugs is not lost on AmerisourceBergen or Good Neighbor Pharmacy — especially when it comes to community pharmacy’s ability to improve adherence and, by extension, patient outcomes.

One of the largest drivers within specialty pharmacy is Hepatitis C treatments. Spending on specialty hepatitis C treatments contributed more than 3% of the spending growth seen in second quarter 2015 — primarily due to new medications like Harvoni and Sovaldi.

“The reality is that on the Hepatitis C products, which are available in the community pharmacy, patients are able to access care, be adherent to a regimen… and be able to get the rest of their prescriptions uninterrupted,” Howell said. “For Good Neighbor Pharmacy members in general, we think it's important that they have access to serve their entire patient population. … We want to make sure that care can be delivered in the community where the patients get the rest of their care.”

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For AmerisourceBergen’s Bob Mauch, improving outcomes, supporting community pharmacy is in his blood

BY David Salazar

LAS VEGAS — At the ThoughtSpot 2015 general session, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation President Bob Mauch told attendees that “to say pharmacy is all in the family for me is an understatement.”

A pharmacist himself, Mauch grew up around community pharmacies as part of his father’s work as an independent pharmacist in Staten Island, N.Y., and Florida. His experience watching his father build businesses that served a vital role in the community is what drove Mauch’s — and his sister’s — interest in becoming a pharmacist.

“I got to watch him enjoy the impact that he made on people’s lives everyday, and as you can imagine that was a pretty big influence on me and my sister,” Mauch said. “It’s important for you to know that independent community pharmacy is in my blood, literally. I’ve lived your challenges, I feel the sense of urgency that you feel every single day. My dad was an entrepreneur … and he encouraged me to start and build a business of my own.”

Mauch’s business, Xcenda, which was acquired by AmerisourceBergen in 2007, focused on the research and analytics side of pharmacy and enabled Mauch to pursue his passion for improving outcomes both for patients and businesses.

“I use these experiences — both my community pharmacy upbringing and my health outcomes training — every day when I think about how we can be a better partner to you,” Mauch told attendees at his first ThoughtSpot as president of AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation . “Your challenges in community pharmacy in terms of reimbursement and outcomes and pay for performance are passions of mine.”

Now at the reigns of AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, Mauch is looking to use his background to achieve three goals: providing the best customer experience to Good Neighbor Pharmacy customers, offering the right value to customers and increasing the company’s strategic relevance to customers’ businesses.

“Every day you are faced with pressures around reimbursement, inventory and cash flow. Instead of worrying about that, we want to help you focus your time and attention on improving patient outcomes,” Mauch told Good Neighbor Pharmacy members. “We want to be your strategic partner and put our muscle to work for you. … This means innovating, as well as being your advocate.”

Though he acknowledges that the healthcare landscape is entirely different than the one his father navigated, and even the one he navigated as a pharmacy student, Mauch is confident that his background, coupled with AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation’s knowledge, reach and partnership, will be a boon to Good Neighbor Pharmacy members.

“The times and the challenges may have changed, but the call for solutions that improve a pharmacist’s ability to serve patients is more urgent than ever,” he said. 

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Now on Amazon’s menu: 1-hour food delivery

BY Dan Berthiaume

SEATTLE — Amazon is priming the appetites of customers in Seattle with a new feature of its Prime Now one-hour delivery service.

Members of the Amazon Prime paid loyalty program in Seattle can order delivery from participating local restaurants using the Prime Now mobile app.

Prime members can view participating restaurants, browse menus, place orders and track the status of their delivery in real time. Once an order is placed, Amazon delivery drivers pick up and deliver the food within an hour or less.

“Prime members can now enjoy food from the Seattle restaurants they love without having to drive all over the city,” said Gus Lopez, general manager, Amazon Restaurants. “For many of these restaurants, this is the first time they are offering delivery, and we are delighted they have chosen to work with us.”

Starting Tuesday, Sept. 8, restaurant delivery on Prime Now is available in select Seattle ZIP codes and will expand in the coming days. Prime members can download the Prime Now app and enter their ZIP code to see if Prime Now is available in their area.

Restaurant delivery on Prime Now offers customers transparent pricing, with no menu markups or hidden service fees, and delivery on all orders is free for a limited time. Customers pay using the information already stored in their Amazon account and orders are backed by Amazon’s customer service.

Amazon is satisfying the hunger of Seattle Prime members after quenching their thirst by recently adding wine, beer and spirits to its assortment of eligible products for Prime Now delivery in that metro area. The company has steadily expanded Prime Now since it launched the service in New York City in 2014.

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