Specialty Therapy

Asembia 2024: Elevating the Specialty Pharmacy Experience

Thousands of healthcare leaders are in Las Vegas this week for Asembia’s Specialty Pharmacy Summit, AXS24. CoverMyMeds is sharing the top takeaways from Monday’s key sessions highlighting patient support programs and specialty pipeline activity.

CoverMyMeds Editorial Team
April 29th, 2024
Graphic that reads "#Asembia24: Monday Recap"
CoverMyMeds is publishing recaps of select sessions from Asembia’s Specialty Pharmacy Summit, AXS24.

One of the key themes at Asembia's Specialty Pharmacy Summit, AXS24, this year is the specialty pipeline, with sessions dedicated to the innovative trends that sustain it. From groundbreaking therapies for rare diseases to advancements in cell and gene therapies, biosimilars and GLP-1s, the specialty pipeline continues to reshape the healthcare system.

This year's Summit examines key industry trends, including regulatory pressures, commercialization challenges, the transformative power of AI, and the role of data-driven solutions in supporting the market. (Read our leaders’ thoughts on these topics.) However, the sustained growth of specialty drugs has also brought increased scrutiny on drug pricing, raising concerns about its impact on medication access and innovation.

The industry is navigating through a multitude of external forces, and the sessions at AXS24 offer a unique opportunity to explore the implications of these challenges. In this blog and the upcoming two blogs, Tuesday and Wednesday, we will share insights from key sessions.

Sign up for email updates to stay up to date on select sessions from AXS24.

Asembia 2024: Day 1, Session 1

“The Specialty Pharmacy Pipeline 2024: A Glimpse at What's Ahead”

Presenter: Ray Tancredi, RPh, MBA, CSP, Divisional Vice President, Pharma Relations & Specialty Pharmacy Development, Walgreens

Summary: What was discussed

A perennial favorite session, Tancredi kicked off the first day of presentations by reviewing trends he’s seeing in the expansive specialty therapy pipeline. Throughout his presentation, he delved into specific drugs in development broken out by oncology, rare and orphan, traditional specialty, cell and gene therapies, and a new highlight for him this year, neurology.

The FDA, the pipeline and the complex therapies associated with it, have been amazingly consistent.

Ray Tancredi, RPh, MBA, CSP
Divisional Vice President, Pharma Relations & Specialty Pharmacy Development, Walgreens
Key takeaways
The industry call to action

The development of new therapies brings new challenges for pharma – from provider utilization to the complex challenges of medication access, affordability and navigating a growing competitive marketplace.

Asembia 2024: Day 1, Session 2

“The State of Patient Services Programs Serving Biopharma: 2024 Independent Benchmarking Read-Out”


  • Paul Battaglia, Vice President, Patient Support Services, Two Labs
  • Dee Chaudhary, Principal, Market Access and Pricing Practice, Clarivate Commercial Strategy Consulting
Summary: What was discussed

How can patient services reduce friction to drug access? That’s the question Battaglia and Chaudhary explored in their presentation on the state of patient services programs.

Throughout their session, Battaglia and Chaudhary shared the results of market research from Two Labs and Clarivate that compared neurology therapies.Paul Battaglia, Dee Chaudhary, April 29, 2024, Asembia Specialty Pharmacy Summit, The State of Patient Services Programs Serving Biopharma; 2024 Independent Benchmarking Read-Out

The therapies were assessed on four key dimensions: Consumer Needs, Accessibility, Satisfaction and Outreach. Clarivate also explored the growing use of technology and social media (a new criteria this year) as effective tools to meet the evolving needs of patients and healthcare practitioners. Based on the data from the study, Battaglia and Chaudhary discussed what makes a good hub service, which programs are leading the way, and what needs to be improved.

The impact of disease varies patient to patient. The diagnosis and treatment journey varies from patient to patient. Keeping the patient in the forefront will help us evolve and develop better programs.

Paul Battaglia
Vice President, Patient Support Services
Key takeaways
  • The findings of the Two Labs/Clarivate market research make it clear that a free flow of information is essential to delivering elevated services. Hubs that prioritize providing easy-to-navigate sites as well as valuable data and insights stand out from the crowd, especially when they also make it easier for providers to access services and provide easy-to-understand content.
  • Battaglia shared that product copay savings and financial support programs are essential items for successful hub services. But the study made it clear that features such as these, which were once considered nice to have, are now essential. That’s true for both pharma with established hubs and those building patient services programs from the ground up.
  • Their research showed that if a physician is choosing between two similar therapies, they're likely to pick the therapy that’s supported by a good hub.Paul Battaglia, Dee Chaudhary, April 29, 2024, Asembia Specialty Pharmacy Summit, The State of Patient Services Programs Serving Biopharma; 2024 Independent Benchmarking Read-Out
The industry call to action

Battaglia and Chaudhary stressed that it’s important for hub service providers to understand the voice of the patient and prescriber. Those learnings must be infused in how pharma designs their services and shares information.

Asembia 2024: Day 1, Session 3

“Driving Positive Customer Experiences and Program Success in Manufacturer Support Programs”


  • Tim Szymusiak, Head, Market Access & Field Reimbursement, Stratis Group
  • Casey Cormier, Principal & Co-Founder, Stratis Group
Summary: What was discussed?

Throughout the patient journey, it’s crucial that both the healthcare provider and the patient have a positive experience. This is where coordination between the hub and field reimbursement teams is key, so patients remain engaged with their patient support program during their entire journey.

While this session covered trends in the design, delivery and measurement of patient support programs that could enhance the healthcare provider and patient experience, the presenters also highlighted the significance of focusing on people and investing in their development to drive success in patient services programs.

Positive customer experience really comes back to the people. (The industry) has the cool data, innovative technology, data strategy, it’s all there, let’s make the reinvestment back in the people.

Tim Szymusiak
Head, Market Access & Field Reimbursement, Stratis Group
Key takeaways
  • In this data-driven era, there can be a gap between perceived data potential and what analytics teams can actually achieve. This gap can lead to misunderstandings or misalignment between brand expectations and analytics deliverables. To bridge this gap, a comprehensive data strategy was shared for pharma to help address this disconnect.
  • There is a common disconnection between the forecasted brand goals and patient support program measurement. Competitive benchmarking helps both teams understand what is achievable versus what is aspirational. By proactively addressing this disconnect, teams can avoid divisiveness and work towards better alignment between brand goals and patient support program measurement.
  • Invest in outsourced program teams through initiatives such as developing program managers, implementing end-to-end quality assurance processes, and managing the narrative around programs with key internal stakeholders like brand and sales teams.
  • Enhance customer interactions by prioritizing comprehensive training that doesn’t just include disease, product, systems and process knowledge – layer on empathy training, motivational interviewing, special populations understanding and coaching and leadership skills.
  • Technology should enable not replace powerful human touchpoints within the patient journey.
The industry call to action

Improving the customer experience involves a collaborative effort. To ensure the overall success of patient support programs, it is crucial for pharma to view outsourced personnel as part of their team, invest in benchmarks and prioritize the development of all individuals dedicated to patient support programs.


The buzz surrounding AI at Asembia this year reflects its growing impact on our industry. Check out this additional exclusive content featuring CoverMyMeds' Chief Operating Officer, Chrissy Hand, providing insight on the role of AI in healthcare.

Chrissy Hand, Chief Operating Officer, CoverMyMeds

Read all of CoverMyMeds' daily updates from AXS24 at our Asembia 2024 Coverage page.

CoverMyMeds Editorial Team
  1. 1. U.S. Food & Drug Administration, FDA Approves Many New Drugs in 2023 that Will Benefit Patients and Consumers. Accessed March 28, 2024.
  2. 2. Ray Tancredi, April 29, 2024, Asembia Specialty Pharmacy Summit, The Specialty Pharmacy Pipeline 2024: A Glimpse At What’s Ahead
  3. 3. American Cancer Society, 2024 – First Year the US Expects More than 2M New Cases of Cancer, Jan. 17, 2024.
  4. 4. Evaluate, “Evaluating Neurology” e-book, March 2024.
  5. 5. Senior, M. Fresh from the biotech pipeline: record-breaking FDA approvals. Nat Biotechnol 42, 355–361 2024.
  6. 6. Patient Care, American Liver Foundation Announces First Federally-Funded Research on MASLD, April 26, 2024
  7. 7. Paul Battaglia, Dee Chaudhary, April 29, 2024, Asembia Specialty Pharmacy Summit, The State of Patient Services Programs Serving Biopharma; 2024 Independent Benchmarking Read-Out

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