CVS specialty goes retail
National drugstore chain and PBM CVS Caremark is bringing its specialty prescription business to its retail stores. The company announced the initiative, which is a broader use of its Specialty Connect service, Wednesday. The company said in a statement that this reinvention means patients will be able to treat specialty medications like other run-of-the-mill prescriptions by just walking into one of its 7,600 retail shops. Patients will also be able to tap into a 24/7 phone support team, if needed.
The additional reach will complement the 11 specialty mail-order pharmacies and 25 retail specialty pharmacy stores the company had in its network as of December 2013.
CVS says around 25% of patients who need to fill specialty prescriptions usually have difficulty doing so, which helps trigger a series of consequences including delayed or abandoned treatment.
This ease-of-access component of the strategy also makes good business sense: A review by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics showed that specialty medications have grown an average of 10% in the US every year over the past five years and accounted for around 29% of prescription medication spending last year, up from 23% in 2008.
The category's pull is such that medications for just three categories—MS, autoimmune and oncology—were $6.9 billion, or 68% of last year's total growth, according to IMS, which also found that last year's total spend on new specialty medications came to $7.5 billion in the US.