Tuesday, May 09, 2023

The State of the Specialty Market 2023: Reflections, Trends, and Photos from #Asembia23

Last week, Paula and I had the pleasure of attending Asembia’s 2023 Specialty Pharmacy Summit at the wonderful Wynn Las Vegas.

As I do every year, I will violate Vegas code and tell you what happened there. I offer reflections on my keynote session with Seema Verma, share my experiences during the featured session, and highlight some crucial specialty industry trends.

You’ll also find a link to my general session slides and some fun photos. FYI, Managed Healthcare Executive (accurately) described my presentation as "mixing jokes with data and PowerPoint slides." Yes, that sounds about right.



Asembia’s Specialty Pharmacy Summit remains the most important forum for learning, networking, and conducting business throughout the entire specialty marketplace. The 2023 event, which had more than 7,000 registered attendees, has been significantly enhanced by the Wynn’s expanded conference facilities.

Drug Channels salutes Larry and Robert Irene for sustaining a valuable annual event that unites all aspects of the specialty industry. Kudos to the indefatigable Chris Benz for pulling it all together once again. We offer our condolences to Larry and Robert on the recent loss of their beloved mother, Anne Irene.

Over the years, the event has evolved into the largest meetingpalooza for all commercial aspects of the pharmaceutical, pharmacy, and payer industries. There were nonstop connections between and among every participant in the drug channel.

As Managed Healthcare Executive noted: “Attendees speak unabashedly about skipping most if not all of the sessions because they are in meetings with past, present or potential clients.” Great news for Asembia and its attendees—but not such good news for the presenters, some of whom spoke to semi-empty rooms.


I had the privilege of participating in a wonderful conversation with Seema Verma, former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). Seema was recently appointed to be senior vice president and general manager, Life Sciences, at Oracle.

Here’s a picture of us on stage.
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We had a wide-ranging discussion about CMS policy, value-based care, reimbursement of CAR-T therapies, inter-agency battles, and much more. I especially enjoyed her behind-the-scenes perspectives on life during the Trump administration.

If you missed the session, I suggest Managed Healthcare Executive’s coverage: Verma Talks About the ‘Pretty Toxic’ Environment of Trump Administration.


I again had the honor of presenting during the event’s general session: Specialty Pharmacy Industry outlook: What’s Next? As in past years, I was joined by Lisa Gill from J.P. Morgan and Doug Long from IQVIA.

You can download our full slide deck here: https://drugch.nl/asembia23.

I also made our slides available in real time at the conference via LinkedIn and Twitter. I have no idea why other speakers didn’t provide the same access.

If you were there on Tuesday morning, you heard us answer audience questions submitted by email during the session. And of course, we took a selfie from the stage—an Asembia tradition! (Bonus: You can see Paula, my wife and business partner, in the front row.)

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You can read about our session here:

During my general session presentation, I discussed the following six major industry trends that will affect the drug channel in the coming year:
Other hot topics at Asembia included: the emergence of cell and gene therapies, the growing presence of hospitals and health systems, potential changes to the 340B Drug Pricing Program, and the ever-growing variation of specialty products. I also offered a new buzzword for manufacturers to consider as they restructure their organizations:
“Being isomorphic to the market around you means thinking about how the market is organized around you. We have to adapt to where the world's going.”
The need for—and structure of—this strategic adaptation has been a major theme in my recent presentations.


Thanks to the many Drug Channels readers who introduced themselves at the summit. I remain gratified by your compliments and words of encouragement. I was especially flattered by the many people who asked to take selfies with me!

Paula and I are glad that Drug Channels Institute remains useful and valuable to people throughout the industry. Below is a picture of us enjoying dinner at Mizumi.

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