Specialty Pharmacy: Trending to the Future

Activity Preview

Each year, the specialty pharmaceuticals market share has grown drastically, bringing specialty medications and pharmacies into the spotlight.  The number of novel drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has grown by appropriately 45-50 percent from 2010 to 2015. Proportionally, the number of specialty medications approved has also risen, keeping the ratio of novel drugs to specialty drugs consistently around 50 percent.  This is also evident with approvals in 2016, where there have been 16 FDA novel drug approvals to date, with 8 medications that can be designated as specialty. It is important to note that this growth is fueled, not only by approvals in more common diseases like oncology and hepatitis, but in rare or orphan diseases as well, with two of the four FDA biologic approvals categorized as specialty medications for the treatment of the rare disease Hemophilia. While the proportion of specialty medications approved has remained the same, medication spending within the specialty market has increased from 24 percent in 2010 to 36-38 percent in 2015 and is projected to continue to exponentially grow to about 50 percent by 2018. 



Learning Objectives

After participating in this activity, the pharmacist will be able to:

  1. List characteristics of specialty pharmacies and specialty pharmaceuticals.
  2. Identify characteristics of specialty pharmacy models, including services offered, that are different than those typically associated with community pharmacy models.
  3. Describe industry trends within the specialty pharmacy marketplace.
  4. Discuss challenges and opportunities associated with developing a specialty pharmacy practice.
  5. Cite sources of information on specialty pharmacies and specialty pharmaceuticals.

Activity type: Knowledge-based
Learning Level: 1


Accreditation Information

ACPE logo

The American Pharmacists Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education as a provider of continuing pharmacy education.

To obtain 2.0 contact hours of continuing pharmacy education credit (0.2 CEUs) for completing "Specialty Pharmacy: Trending to the Future," complete the CPE examination and evaluation questions. Credit will be awarded upon achieving a passing grade of 70% or better. Please visit CPE Monitor for your statement of credit/transcript.

APhA continuing pharmacy education policy provides you with two opportunities to successfully complete this continuing pharmacy education examination. Please note that you will not be permitted to submit the examination a third time. Exam questions may not appear in the same order as printed.

The current policy of the APhA Education Department is not to release the correct answers to any of our CPE tests. This policy is intended to maintain the integrity of the CPE activity and the test. Individuals completing this activity by September 1, 2019 can receive credit.

Initial release date: October 1, 2016
Expiration date: October 1, 2019
ACPE Universal Activity Number: 0202-0000-16-191-H04-P.


Advisory Board

Helen Sairany, BSc, PharmD, BCACP
Associate Director, Content Development
American Pharmacists Association
Washington, D.C.

Lisa Kumor, PharmD, BCACP
Clinical Assistant Professor
University of Illinois at Chicago
Chicago, Illinois

Joann Stubbings, BSPharm, MHCA
Assistant Director, Specialty Pharmacy Services
University of Illinois College of Pharmacy
Chicago, Illinois



Helen Sairany, BSc, PharmD, BCACP; Lisa Kumor, PharmD, BCACP; Joann Stubbings, BSPharm, MHCA; and APhA’s editorial staff declare no conflicts of interest or financial interests in any product or service mentioned in this activity, including grants, employment, gifts, stock holdings, and honoraria.. For complete staff disclosures please see the APhA Accreditation Information section at www.pharmacist.com/apha-disclosures.



"Specialty Pharmacy: Trending to the Future” is a home-study continuing education activity for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians developed by the American Pharmacists Association.


Activity Fee

There is no fee associated with this activity for members of the American Pharmacists Association. There is a $25 fee for nonmembers.

Credit Information

Activity Number Credit Amount Accreditation Period
ACPE# 0202-0000-16-191-H04-P 0.2 CEUs October 01, 2016 - October 01, 2019