PHARMACY

J M Smith shuffles tech, wholesale leadership

BY David Salazar

J M Smith is switching up the leadership its technology and wholesale business units. The Spartanburg, S.C.-based company on Monday named erstwhile chief technology officer Kevin Welch to lead its technology solutions and named Saul Factor, who was president of QS/1, to lead its Smith Drug and Burlington Drug wholesale distribution units.

Kevin Welch

Kevin Welch

“The decision to align our technology offerings under one leader was made to further enhance our customer focus. Kevin is a highly respected technology leader with a passion for moving pharmacy forward. Under his guidance, QS/1 and Integra customers can expect a commitment to technology excellence and responsiveness,” J M Smith CEO and chairman Alan Turfe said. “During his time as President of QS/1, Saul led with transparency and a contagious drive to advance customer centricity and business excellence. I am looking forward to what Kevin and Saul will accomplish for our customers in their new roles.”

Welch and Factor both joined J M Smith in 2017. Welch came on as CTO during J M Smith’s acquisition of Integra, which he founded. His experience includes time in senior positions at Genentech, Symantec and Microsoft.

Saul Factor

Saul Factor

“I am excited by this tremendous opportunity,” said Welch. “Aligning all our technology offerings benefits the customers in all of the markets we serve. We will continue to have dedicated teams for each of these markets – long-term care, community pharmacy and governmental, while sharing best practices across all of them.”

Factor, a pharmacist by training, joined QS/1 from his role as president of global sourcing and generics at McKesson. He spent the first 10 years of his career as a retail and long-term care pharmacist, and has worked in leadership positions at such companies as Eli Lilly and RxAmerica.

“The pharmacy industry is very dynamic and we at Smith Drug and Burlington Drug are committed to being at the forefront with innovative solutions, leading distribution processes and customer-centric service,” said Factor. “It is important to provide customers with what they need now while also working to address their future needs. I am thrilled to be leading Smith Drug and Burlington Drug with our renowned customer service and I am looking forward to partnering with customers to deliver on the promise of the pharmacy of the future.”

 

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PHARMACY

Diplomat focuses on specialty cost savings

BY David Salazar

Diplomat Pharmacy is focusing on curbing costs as prices rise. The Flint, Mich.-based specialty pharmacy said that throughout 2018, it would be implementing such measures as advancing generics, biosimilars and more affordable branded drugs. Company president Joel Saban said that high-cost specialty medication is fueling costs for health plans and patients.

“With 90 percent of traditional medications now filled as generics, specialty pharmacy costs are driving pharmacy spend for payers,” Saban said. “To offer real solutions to today’s challenges, we need a new model with a diverse set of assets. The need for specialty benefit management solutions has never been more urgent.”

Also as part of its cost-saving efforts, Diplomat is enhancing its split-fill program, which offers patients a two-week fill when starting a therapy that allows it to mitigate waste if the patient has to switch therapies early on. The company has increased the number of drugs in the split-fill program by 78%, Saban said.

“This program can save up to 50 percent per patient,” he said. “We give patients a two-week supply at the start of a new therapy. This allows us to mitigate waste in the event a patient needs to change therapies early on. In avoiding medication waste, we reduce spend for both the payer and patient.”

Diplomat said that it saves $2,400 per patient per month when using a generic oral oncology drug, and 1,800 per month per patient moved to generic multiple sclerosis medication. According to interim CEO Jeff Park, Diplomat also is closely eyeing the biosimilar market — the drugs can offer a discount of 10% to 15% compared with the original product.

“We view biosimilars as a key lever in managing the rising cost of specialty spend,” Park said. “Biosimilars have struggled to gain footing in the U.S. due to litigation. However, we expect the environment to become more favorable soon. This should lead to expanded biosimilar use and more affordable care.”

The company also keeps an eye on the specialty pipeline in an effort to build relationships with manufacturers ahead of time that can help secure access to limited-distribution drugs.

“We want to make sure patients receive the most effective treatment at a price they can afford,” Saban said. “Reviewing new generics and biosimilar products—incorporating cost-saving strategies as appropriate—these steps bring Diplomat closer to meeting these urgent needs.”

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Fera Pharma to market Pragma’s Decadron

BY DSN STAFF

Fera Pharmaceuticals will be handling sales and marketing for the planned launch of Pragma Pharmaceuticals’ Decadron tablets. Pragma said that it anticipated an early 2018 launch date of the dexamethasone tablets.

Decadron will be available in 0.5-, 0.75-, 4- and 6-mg dosage strength tablets. The drug is a steroid that the companies said is widely used for its effectiveness and potency.

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