What is the difference between a retail pharmacy and specialty pharmacy?
The difference between a retail pharmacy and specialty pharmacy is the type of medical conditions treated, type of medication dispensed, and level of involvement with patient treatment.
Retail pharmacies, also called community pharmacies, typically provide OTC and prescription medications to treat common conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and pain.
Specialty pharmacies focus on patients with chronic health conditions requiring complex treatment therapies.
Retail pharmacies dispense a wide range of medications for common illnesses to large populations. These medications may or may not have high costs, are widely available at retail pharmacies, and typically do not require extensive ongoing clinical management and patient monitoring.
Specialty pharmacies dispense a limited number of medications used to treat chronic and complex illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and rare genetic conditions. These medications generally have a higher cost, may be limited in supply, and require ongoing monitoring and extensive patient education.
Specialty pharmacies may opt to obtain additional certifications, such as accreditation from the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board (PCAB) or certification from an organization approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Both retail pharmacies and specialty pharmacies must obtain state pharmacy licenses to operate legally. States license retail pharmacies under a community or retail pharmacy category while the appropriate license category for specialty pharmacies vary by state.
Commonly Asked Questions
What types of patients do specialty pharmacies serve?
Answer: Specialty pharmacies focus on patients with chronic health conditions requiring complex treatment therapies for illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and rare genetic conditions.
How does accreditation for specialty pharmacies differ from those of retail pharmacies?
Answer: Because of the highly specialized services provided by specialty pharmacies, these pharmacies may decide to obtain multiple accreditations specific to their services. Accreditations, such as accreditation from the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board (PCAB), can add value to a specialty pharmacy by driving quality and improving patient care.
Are there any commonalities in the state licensing process for all types of pharmacies?
Answer: Yes, all pharmacies are generally required to meet certain staffing requirements, comply with state regulations related to the dispensing of medications, and maintain proper licensure and certification.
How can a pharmacy determine which licenses and certifications it needs to operate in a specific state?
Answer: The specific requirements for operating a pharmacy in a given state can vary so it's important to consult with a licensing expert or regulatory agency to determine the license type necessary to operate legally.