Specialty Pharmacy vs. Retail Pharmacy: What is the Difference?

Published On: September 15th, 2021Categories: Services, Specialty

What is Retail Pharmacy?

Visiting your local retail pharmacy is a common practice for most Americans. Retail pharmacies handle a variety of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications for treating common illnesses. Allergy treatments, high blood pressure medications, antibiotics, cold and flu remedies can all be obtained at retail pharmacies. Retail pharmacists can answer questions, help navigate symptoms, and give guidance to avoid side effects and drug interactions.

The term “retail community pharmacy” means an independent pharmacy, or chain pharmacy, that is licensed as a pharmacy by the State and dispenses medications to the general public at retail prices. These pharmacies are typically located all over the community for ease of access. The major differences between retail pharmacies and specialty pharmacies are the conditions treated and the medications dispensed. 


What is Specialty Pharmacy?

While retail pharmacies are for short-term illness, specialty pharmacies work with patients and physicians to provide medications for chronic and more severe illnesses. Specialty pharmacies serve patients with serious health conditions who require complex treatment therapies. Because specialty pharmacies often treat patients with chronic conditions that require regimented medication protocols, they provide patients with more detailed education and patient care services that are required for their medications.

Specialty medications require extensive patient management and monitoring. Specialty Pharmacies have additional staff and services available to communicate with patients and physicians, which can help ensure medication adherence and increase the effectiveness of a treatment plan. Patient monitoring and frequent communication can keep patients up-to-date about changes or adjustments that may need to be addressed during a treatment plan.

Often patients with chronic conditions require multiple medications, and a specialty pharmacy will assist with supervising drug interactions, compliance, and side effects. Though numerous specialty medications are taken orally, many need to be injected or infused, making distribution, handling, and storage more complex. When needed, specialty pharmacies provide services that include training and consultations in how to use medications that are injected or infused.

Specialty pharmacies also go through extensive reviews to receive special accreditations. Accreditation means a specialty pharmacy has met standards for patient safety and quality control and gives patients assurance that extra safety methods are in place. Because specialty medications are often costly, specialty pharmacies also support patients who might face reimbursement or financial challenges by investigating a patient’s benefits to confirm coverage and submitting the proper claims. Specialty pharmacies have access to extensive networks of financial assistance, subsidies, and manufacturer free-drug programs. 


How to Choose a Specialty Pharmacy

PFSP Specialty Pharmacy provides patients and their physicians an exceptionally high standard of care with our growing team of specialized pharmacists and staff. Our dedicated team of pharmacists focus on improving adherence for patients and work to find an approach that works best for them. Bringing a fresh take on what a Specialty Pharmacy can and should be, we are committed to the care of our patients. We take pride in being an ethical resource within our community and strive each day to help our patients live enriching and full lives.