September 22, 2020

Developing a Distribution Plan for Your Specialty Product

By Dan Steiber, RPh, Specialty Pharmacy Times
Published Online: Monday, Jan 07, 2019

An opportunity to save money for the benefit sponsor compared with traditional models in which products are delivered through less efficient means, primarily via the hospital or physician office. Specialty pharmacy is more focused on specialty disease states, such as those listed below. On its website, an accredited specialty pharmacy will often describe its focused services, highlighting their expertise on these disease states. If your products treat the conditions below, chances are good that specialty pharmacy is in your future:
  • Hemophilia
  • Von Willebrand disease
  • Gaucher disease
  • Growth hormone deficiencies
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Hepatitis (types A, B, C)
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Fertility/hormone therapies
  • Immune disorders (ie, intravenous immune globulin treatment)
  • Respiratory syncytial virus
  • Hematopoietic colony-stimulating factors
  • Rheumatoid arthritis/osteoarthritis
  • Transplant
  • Oncology
  • Dermatology/psoriasis
  • Devices/testing
The focused services of specialty pharmacy greatly expand on the services offered in the traditional community pharmacy setting. They fall into several categories and are key elements to measure when selecting specialty pharmacy partners (Figure 3).

In the world of traditional community pharmacy, a prescription is handed to a patient or electronically transmitted to the drugstore to which the patient travels physically to pick up their medication. If the prescription is a new therapy, by regulation, the patient receives counseling and must be provided written information about their medication. In the specialty pharmacy environment, the flow is quite different (Figure 4) and can be more complicated for certain products (Figure 5).


A critical step in the selection process is the development of a request for proposal (RFP). As we’ve seen, specialty pharmacy offers a menu of services. Therefore, determining which services best fit the needs of your product is crucial. There are 4 major buckets of services that must be assessed, in addition to pricing (Figure 6).

About the Specialty Pharmacy Times Industry Guide

The Specialty Pharmacy Times Industry Guide includes comprehensive editorial content relative to all specialty pharmacy stakeholders. Content includes information relative to market trends, commercialization, distribution, order to cash, HUB Services, managed care strategies and DIR fees. The guide also includes profiles, and a complete list of stakeholders along the patient journey: specialty pharmacies, wholesaler distributors, manufacturers, support services, group purchasing, and trade associations.

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