There are clear cut difference between the two terms. The wholesalers are the first purchaser of the drug, directly from manufacturer. Specialty pharmacy involves in distribution of the high cost product (mostly biologics) which requires special shipping and storage. Let us understand that in detail.
In a regular pharmaceutical distribution system, the wholesaler is the first purchaser of a drug product – direct from the manufacturer. Wholesalers buy very large quantities and then resell either direct to provider-purchasers (like a large health system, pharmacy or pharmacy chain), or resell to smaller, regional distributors for regional or local distribution to retail pharmacies and hospitals.
On the other hand, Specialty pharmacy are organizations who may or may not take ownership of the drug product. Their clients are drug manufacturers that want or need limited distribution of specialty drugs. Specialty drugs are typically (but not always) high cost, require special shipping and storage (freezing or cold storage), are indicated for relatively small patient populations treated by physician specialists. Manufacturers have been accused of using specialty pharmacies to limit access to a drug by potential generic or biosimilar competitors (limited distribution can make it difficult to obtain a drug sample if the entity is not a treating provider on a list approved by the manufacturer).
Specialty pharmacy can deliver ‘just in time’ products by working with treating providers to supply the appropriate drug in time for a patient visit at the location where the drug will be used.