January 18, 2021

Developing a Distribution Plan for Your Specialty Product

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


Once you’ve decided that your product will be best served through specialty pharmacy and which particular services best fit your product, you’ll need to make several choices around the ultimate flow and mix of specialty pharmacies. Several specialty pharmacy models are currently in place that could be viable options to best manage the supply chain and clinical needs of your product. Many critical factors must be considered in sizing your pharmacy network. These choices are often defined depending on the number of specialty pharmacies in your network:
  • Exclusive (single-specialty pharmacy partner)
  • Limited (3 to 5)
  • Narrow (5 to 12)
  • Broad (more than 12)
Several gauging factors must be considered that are part of the art of selecting a network. The size of the potential patient population for the product is the most crucial, but you must also take into account any of the following that apply:
  • Orphan drug with limited patient population
  • Clinical profile and complexity of patient education
  • Necessity for controlled patient counseling
  • The high-touch needs of the product, including a REMS initiative, where necessary
  • Titration and blood test needs
  • If a drug benefit drives the utilization of large payer-owned specialty pharmacies balanced against high-touch specialty pharmacies
  • Best inventory control and cost of the product
  • The need for tighter data

As the specialty pharmacy has evolved, several variations of specialty pharmacy ownership have come to populate the marketplace today. It is critical for a manufacturer to consider the strategic importance of selecting the right potential partners when deciding on a specialty pharmacy, because the move may help with negotiating leverage and access. The listing below (Figure 8), although far from inclusive of the entire marketplace, which continues to evolve, is a high-level sampling of specialty pharmacies and the major areas of ownership.


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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