8th annual Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit sees 30% boost in attendance

LAS VEGAS — The 8th annual Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit officially kicked off here at the Wynn casino resort on Wednesday morning, with early attendance figures showing a 30% increase over 2011, when more than 1,500 executives attended.

The Summit brings together “senior executives and key decision-makers from nearly every leading national, regional and local specialty pharmacy provider,” Armada Health Care CEO Lawrence Irene told Drug Store News. Important, the event also helps bring together what was just a few years ago, still a relatively fragmented industry, also attracting “leading pharmaceutical and biotech companies, managed care organizations, wholesalers and distributors, technology providers and various other affiliated healthcare companies.”

Highlights from this year’s Summit included a state of the specialty pharmacy industry address from Diplomat Pharmacy president and CEO Phil Hagerman, and a special point/counterpoint discussion between former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs under President Barack Obama and Karl Rove, former Deputy Chief of Staff and advisor to former President George W. Bush. Co-moderated by Lawrence Irene and Armada chief strategy officer Thomas Cohn, Gibbs and Rove squared off on topics ranging from the upcoming Presidential election, the state of the economy, the Supreme Court review of the Affordable Care Act and the one-year anniversary of the death of the Osama bin Laden.

Borrowing a Star Trek theme for his comments, Hagerman examined an industry he characterized as growing and evolving at “warp speed,” pointing to several key forces that will shape the next generation of specialty pharmacy, including the emergence of personalized medicine, expanded clinical capabilities and outcomes in line with the rollout of health care reform, education and training and new technology solutions to complement core dispensing capabilities.  Hagerman talked about the importance of providers to “harvest the patient interface,” and not just to mine patient data “but to use it and distill it down to actionable programs that drive outcomes,” he said, both patient outcomes and financial outcomes.

“Phil Hagerman was right on point this morning about the role technology is playing to enhance the services that specialty pharmacies is able to provide,” noted Armada Health Care president Robert Irene. “Armada is proud to be on the forefront of helping our members continue to grow by pioneering solutions for the specialty pharmacy industry.”

Other highlights from this year’s program included special guest speaker Dr. Michio Kaku, world-renowned physicist, best-selling author and star of the Discovery Channel series “How the Universe Works,” talked about the next great wave in technological advancement, which he characterized by three key areas — nanotechnology, biotechnology and artificial intelligence — and how these fields would transform healthcare over the next 50 years. In 2050, Kaku described a world in which doctors will engineer man-made organs and diagnostics in our bathroom mirrors and even in our toilets will provide round-the-clock health monitoring, enabling healthcare providers to diagnose and treat disease years before they actually occur.

The Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit, which ran through Thursday, also featured a sold-out exhibit hall, with more than 75 exhibitors and sponsoring companies in all. The event also included five live hours of continuing education. IMS Health vp industry relations Doug Long presented a snapshot of the current state of the pharmacy market to help set the table for early arriving attendees, anchoring a bonus day of programming on Tuesday.