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Walgreens Looks to ‘Break Through Health Care Silos’ with New Specialty Pharmacy Division

A Walgreens specialty pharmacist
Image courtesy Walgreens
Logo for Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy
Image courtesy Walgreens

Walgreens is bringing all of its specialty pharmacy services into one integrated unit and expanding its offerings for patients suffering from complex chronic conditions with an investment in gene and cell services. It’s all part of what the company described as the “latest step to leverage its neighborhood pharmacies into fast-growing areas of healthcare.”

The new Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy division combines the company’s existing specialty assets and fully integrates AllianceRx. Specialty medications today account for more than 50% of prescription drug costs in the U.S. due to the increasing prevalence of chronic disease.

With this new specialty division, Walgreens said it hopes to “break through healthcare system silos” by expanding access to specialized treatments, as well as driving cost savings and efficiencies by uniting Walgreen’s pharmacy teams and distribution network across providers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, health plans and payers.

The new business encompasses:

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  • A new Gene and Cell Services Pharmacy and Innovation Center, a dedicated 18,000-square-foot center in Pittsburgh with services and capabilities for these emerging therapies, including innovative solutions for managing the complexity of the supply chain, logistics and financing as well as clinical and social needs management for patients and partners;
  • Four central specialty pharmacies, each holding several national pharmacy accreditations, where pharmacists and care teams dispense highly complex medications and help patients manage chronic or rare diseases and conditions. These pharmacies hold distinctions in oncology and rare/orphan conditions and offer patients and caregivers clinical services that drive engagement, adherence and outcomes;
  • Nearly 300 community-based specialty pharmacies strategically located near medical office buildings and health systems, closely aligning care provision with local physicians. These pharmacies will offer patients access to specialty medications faster than the industry average as well as services like injection training, medication side effect management and financial assistance coordination for medications;
  • More than 1,500 specialty-trained pharmacists, 5,000 patient advocacy support team members and dedicated Specialty360 teams that support all specialty conditions and therapies; and
  • A growing roster of 240 limited distribution drugs, including 40 narrow networks and 12 exclusive limited distribution drugs.

Walgreens specialty pharmacists have additional training to better understand these specialty medications, which have unique storage, temperature and handling requirements, are often given by infusion, injection or taken orally, and require close patient monitoring and ongoing clinical support. They also help patients find affordable access to high-cost medications, help with adherence barriers and support patients throughout their treatment.

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