ORLANDO, Fla. — One of the country’s largest specialty and home delivery pharmacies is now AllianceRx Walgreens Pharmacy. Walgreens announced full ownership of the company in January, necessitating the name change.
“AllianceRx Walgreens Pharmacy is the same specialty and home delivery pharmacy our patients have come to trust and depend on for life-saving medications,” says Joel Wright, RPh, chief executive officer. “We continue putting patients first in everything we do to provide hope and care for better tomorrows.”
New name comes with some changes
In addition to the new name, patients and partners may notice a few other changes at AllianceRx Walgreens Pharmacy:
- A more personalized pharmacy experience: AllianceRx Walgreens Pharmacy’s Specialty360 therapy teams will provide patients with personalized care throughout their healthcare journey. New dedicated therapy directors will work cross-functionally with pharmacy functions to oversee the delivery of patient care. Team members – including pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, nurses and dietitians – will be certified in specific diagnoses along with associated therapies. Those diagnoses include conditions related to behavioral health, bone health, chronic inflammatory disease, endocrine, neurology, nursing and infusion-supporting therapies, oncology, organ/infectious disease, pulmonary and allergy, and reproductive health.
“As the pharmacy industry has evolved, the needs of our patients have become more complex. To better serve them, we transformed our operating model to create dedicated teams that focus on specific conditions and therapies,” says Tracey James, RPh, chief operating officer. “We’ve always prided ourselves on providing comprehensive patient care across functional teams. We’re confident the changes we’ve made will not only improve patient outcomes but will also reduce the cost of care and enhance the patient and provider experience.”
- Greater access to hard-to-find medications: AllianceRx Walgreens Pharmacy has gained access to more than 20 limited distribution drugs (LDDs) since September 2021. “This also included some new launches or additions to previously excluded products,” James says. “And, we have six more LDDs in the pipeline, which if we win, will lead to our best year on record.”
James attributes the company’s leading access to hard-to-find medications to its commitment to patient care. “First, manufacturers know we have dedicated teams working closely with patients to help make sure they stay on therapy. And second, they want a partner who is experienced in handling high-touch medications,” she says. “They know they have that in AllianceRx Walgreens Pharmacy. We share the same goal of improving patient outcomes while helping reduce healthcare costs.”
- Helping make specialty medications affordable: Specialty drugs typically require special handling, administration or monitoring, which is why they cost more than regular medications. Just five years ago, specialty medications accounted for approximately 38% of total drug expenditures.1 Today, specialty medications account for 50% or greater of the total prescription spend. In some cases, employers are seeing specialty costs account for 60% or even greater of their total drug spending.2
Wright says AllianceRx Walgreens Pharmacy has reimbursement specialists who assist with prior authorizations and questions about insurance coverage. “They also help identify financial assistance programs available to eligible patients. In fact, we connected eligible patients to more than $600 million in financial assistance between 2019 and 2021,”3 he says. “We have always worked to provide this level of attention and support to our patients every day, and this is something we will continue at AllianceRx Walgreens Pharmacy.”
- Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) achievements: A greater focus on DE&I has led to the creation of a company DE&I council as well as new team member resource groups focusing on how to bring different groups of people together across the organization to celebrate, recognize and acknowledge one another.
- A new headquarters: “Over the last several years, we’ve focused on reducing our physical footprint as part of our long-term real estate strategy,” Wright says. The company has ceased dispensing of specialty prescriptions from Orlando and has relocated its headquarters to the nearby Walgreens regional office. Wright says this was a natural shift as many of the company’s team members successfully work remotely.
Looking Toward the Future of Specialty Pharmacy
Wright finds specialty pharmacy to be an exciting space and predicts an industry focus on improving the patient journey, including how specialty pharmacies engage digitally with patients and providers.
- Eliminating social barriers: Social determinants of health are everyday factors that can prevent patients from staying on therapy. These may include housing instability, food insecurity or not being able to get to your doctor’s appointment. “If we can help identify and address these barriers, then our patients will be able to stay on treatment and have better outcomes,” James says.
- Data-focused care: Wright predicts pharmacists are going to play a more active role in the collection of patient-reported outcomes and the use of real-world evidence. “Both of these are instrumental in helping to individualize care, which helps patients feel heard and understood and is vital in the patient journey,” he says.
“As we focus on the future, we have evolved our company greatly in the last several months,” Wright says. “These changes give us a great opportunity to look at things through new eyes, to face new challenges, to consider new competitors and to reposition ourselves in the market. We are excited about the future of specialty pharmacy and AllianceRx Walgreens Pharmacy’s role in shaping it.”