Cardinal Health Inc. is serving up solutions to help its community pharmacy customers meet the burgeoning demand for specialty medications and home health care.

Cardinal Health, specialty medications, home health care, community pharmacy, Specialty Pharmacy Alliance, Independence Medical, Retail Business Conference, RBC, specialty drugs, medical supplies, durable medical equipment, AssuraMed, Ray Rede, Community Specialty Pharmacy Network, CSPN, OncoSource Rx, Jon Giacomin, pharmaceutical distribution,

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Cardinal spotlights specialty Rx, home medical solutions

August 8th, 2013

SEATTLE – Cardinal Health Inc. is serving up solutions to help its community pharmacy customers meet the burgeoning demand for specialty medications and home health care.

At its Retail Business Conference (RBC) on Thursday, Cardinal introduced the Specialty Pharmacy Alliance, a suite of services designed to make it easier for pharmacies to improve patient access to and compliance with specialty drugs, which typically need special handling, dispensing, administration and patient counseling services.

Also at the event, Cardinal highlighted the access it offers pharmacies to more than 40,000 home medical products via Independence Medical, a distributor of disposable medical supplies and durable medical equipment acquired as part of Cardinal's purchase of AssuraMed earlier this year.

According to the pharmaceutical wholesaler, the Cardinal Health Specialty Pharmacy Alliance provides a cost-effective way for pharmacies to give patients with access to the rising number of specialty medications. Pharmacies can also leverage the alliance to furnish patients with access to specialty drug therapy support services.

Cardinal noted that specialty medications are often "high-cost and high-touch," and patients need support in managing the clinical and financial issues involved with these complex drug regimens. What's more, the company said, specialty drug manufacturers — especially those with small patient populations — are increasingly implementing "limited distribution" programs, which call for a specialty medication to be dispensed by a small network of specialty pharmacies with proven capabilities in providing complex patient care.

"Over the next five years, sales of specialty drugs that are used to treat complex illnesses ranging from cancer and AIDS to hepatitis C and multiple sclerosis are expected to grow by at least 17% annually," Ray Rede, vice president of managed care relations for the Community Specialty Pharmacy Network (CSPN), said in a statement. "As early as 2015, specialty drugs are expected to dominate the top 10 dispensed drug rankings. Given these projected growth rates, it's critically important that community pharmacists have access to resources that can help them serve the specialty medication needs of their patients."

Cardinal said the Specialty Pharmacy Alliance accomplishes that goal by leveraging the company's URAC-accredited OncoSource Rx specialty pharmacy in Maryland. Staffed by certified pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to support patient needs 24/7, OncoSource Rx offers a broad range of patient-centric services — available to any retail pharmacy in the United States — to foster compliance with specialty drug regimens and help patients better manage the clinical and financial complexities of these drugs.

Specifically, the alliance's specialty pharmacy team can manage prior authorization and co-pay assistance; dispense specialty medications and adjudicate related claims; help retail pharmacies fulfill as many patient prescriptions as possible, at the local level; provide individualized patient care; and work with the patient, pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) and the prescribing doctor to order and process medication refills.

"Specialty Pharmacy Alliance aims to enhance the relationship between patients and their community pharmacies," stated Jon Giacomin, president of U.S. pharmaceutical distribution for Cardinal's pharmaceutical business unit. "Our goal is to make it easier for retail pharmacies to provide their patients with convenient access to specialty medications and related support, while also reinforcing their role as their community's most accessible, most trusted local health care resource."

Similarly, by accessing Independence Medical's broad product and service offering, pharmacy customers can develop a new source of revenue by meeting the growing patient demand for home health care products, according to Cardinal.

For instance, the company said, Independence Medical can deliver more than 40,000 products to 99% of the U.S. population within one to two business days. The products can be shipped directly to a pharmacy for in-store patient pickup or to the patient's home, with the products bearing the pharmacy's name.

Independence Medical, too, can help pharmacies market their new or expanding home health care offering through personalized catalogs, customized fliers and brochures, educational materials and package inserts tailored to specific patient demographics. It also offers interactive online tools to enable pharmacies to schedule patient order reminders and recurring patient orders.

In addition, Independence Medical enlists proprietary industry data to assist pharmacies in managing patient formularies and developing product cross-selling opportunities to foster patient loyalty and increase margins, Cardinal said. The home medical unit also accepts orders via online, phone, fax and secure electronic platforms to help pharmacy customers reduce warehousing, inventory management and labor costs. Customized shipping options include home delivery, order consolidation and bulk ship.

"In today's increasingly competitive health care landscape, it's more important than ever before that community pharmacies find innovative ways to grow their businesses while meeting their patients' evolving health care needs," Giacomin explained. "This new offering will help retail pharmacies diversify their revenue while also strengthening their role as a local health care destination in the communities they serve."