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Big retailer offers specialty medications through an agreement with Diplomat Pharmacy
To the potential consumer benefits of coupon programs, copay assistance and other types of financial support, patients requiring specialty medications can now add: bonus shopping points at Kmart and Sears. The retail chain has announced an agreement with Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy, a leader in that category that operates nationally, to provide specialty medications for such conditions as hepatitis C, HIV, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and others. Kmart has over 800 pharmacies nationwide.
The agreement works on several levels: retail pharmacy chains of any sort are under increasing pressure to take part in the boom in specialty medications, widely expected to account for half of prescription spending by 2020. But part of what makes specialties special is the high-touch services they require, with prior authorizations to negotiate, patient followup and ancillary condition monitoring, for example. "We understand that when patients are dealing with a chronic or complex health condition they need an extra level of care," said Mark Panzer, president of pharmacy for Sears Holdings (parent of Kmart), in a statement. "By partnering with Diplomat Pharmacy, Kmart Pharmacy is able to provide a highly trained team to support medication therapy and comprehensive care management to better serve our specialty pharmacy members.”
Services such as those from Diplomat not only can improve outcomes, but can help control payers’ costs, especially when side effects and adherence to therapy are issues for patients. “The big winner in this is the specialty drug patient who now has a full team of healthcare professionals at their disposal, working together to ensure the best outcome,” said Ela Lourido, director of retail specialty network at Diplomat.
Kmart is not shy about noting another benefit for its pharmacy customers: the potential to use prescription purchases as part of its Shop Your Way service, a relatively new retail offering that provides online ordering, bonus points for purchases and notifications of sales at Kmart, both online and in-store. (The Shop Your Way fine print notes that this doesn’t apply to Medicare patients and is restricted in several states.) Will Kmart customers be financing their next lawn mower purchase through hepC prescriptions? Time will tell.