supermarkets, some grocers are indeed making a name in specialty.
“Kroger is the country’s second-largest supermarket and seventh-largest pharmacy,” says Fein. “It has been an active acquirer of both
supermarkets and specialty pharmacies. We estimate that Kroger
Specialty Pharmacy was the eighth largest specialty pharmacy in 2016.”
The Kroger Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio, which acquired Axium
Pharmacy Holdings in 2012, purchased the outstanding shares of the
Orlando-based ModernHealth in July 2016, creating a combined specialty pharmacy that operates as a wholly-owned subsidiary of The
Through his Drug Channels Institute and Drug Channels industry
blog, Fein helps senior executives in the pharmacy business to navigate
the increasingly complex pharmaceutical industry with its new generation of specialty drugs.
“To remain competitive, it has never been more crucial to master the
fundamental commercial industry concepts, understand the rapidly
evolving relationships among the players in the drug channels landscape, and stay current with industry trends,” asserts Fein in his blog.
Specialty pharmacies are the future, and the growth in this industry
sector is rapid, he says.
“We project that the pharmacy industry’s revenues will exceed $483
billion in 2020. Almost all of the growth will come from specialty
drugs,” predicts Fein in Drug Channels 2020 Outlook for Specialty
Pharmacy Revenues. “Meanwhile, pharmacy revenues from traditional
drugs will be almost flat, despite higher demand.”
Frequent mergers and acquisitions, like those of Kroger and
ModernHealth, and Albertsons and MedCart, contribute to the fast-
changing pulse of the specialty pharmacy business.
“A growing number and diversity of pharmacies are battling for control of the specialty market,” asserts Fein.;“More than half of all accredited specialty pharmacy locations are independently owned businesses.
These companies constitute an active market for the buying and selling
of specialty pharmacy companies.”;
THE RISE IN ACCREDITATION
While there is no official definition of a “specialty pharmacy,” the
American Pharmacists Association (APhA) in Washington, D.C.,
defines it as facilities “focusing on high cost, high touch medication
therapy for patients with complex disease states.” Medications in specialty pharmacy range from oral to cutting edge injectable and biologic
products for treatments ranging from cancer, multiple sclerosis and
rheumatoid arthritis to rare genetic conditions.
“Given this self-designation [of specialty pharmacies], independent
accreditation organizations can help a pharmacy develop and verify its
capabilities to manufacturers and third-party payers,” explains Fein,
who finds that accreditation of specialty pharmacies is also on the rise.
With accreditation, he notes, “Pharmacies owned by PBMs, whole-
salers, insurers, retailers, and providers can now prove that they are
The three primary organizations offering accreditation for specialty
pharmacies are: Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC),
Utilization Review Accreditation Commission (URAC) and The Center
for Pharmacy Practice Accreditation (CPPA).
Drug Channel’s “State of Specialty Pharmacy Accreditation in 2017”
found that more than 2,500 unique pharmacy locations have received
However, just the ACHC data alone included more than 2,000 newly
accredited locations from retail pharmacies within the supermarket
chains of Albertsons, Meijer and Price Chopper. When Drug Channels
excluded these supermarket locations, it identified 499 unique pharmacy locations, a 32 percent increase over its 2016 analyses.
Last year ushered in a flurry of accreditations for grocery chain
specialty pharmacies. In January of 2016, Hy-Vee, based in West
Des Moines, Iowa, which in 2014 had purchased Amber Pharmacy,
an Omaha, Neb.-based specialty pharmacy solutions provider, was
awarded full;Specialty Pharmacy Accreditation;from URAC.
Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer, which acquired the national
ALBERTSONS FIRST IN THE NATION
AS PART OF A COLLABORATIVE
EFFORT TO IMPROVE access to hormonal contraception for Oregon women,
Albertsons Cos. announced in June that
select pharmacies can now bill Oregon
Medicaid plans for the consultation
service fee. The retailer was the first in
the nation to successfully complete the
process for a patient.
Albertsons, in partnership with
Oregon State University, worked
to develop the processes that now
allow Oregon pharmacists to be paid by
Medicaid for the consultation service
fee when prescribing birth control,
eliminating the fee for the Medicaid
Oregon bill HB 2879, which allowed
anyone 18 years and older to receive
birth control prescribed by a pharmacist, was effective May 1, 2016.
“Oregon was the first in the nation
to implement a law that gave women
access to hormonal contraceptives
through their local pharmacy,” explains
Mark Panzer of Albertsons. “We are
excited to be at the forefront with them
to broaden patient access to healthcare
services, decrease financial barriers,
and add to ways that community phar-
macists can directly and conveniently
provide care for customers through the