September 25, 2020

Developing a Distribution Plan for Your Specialty Product

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

Welcome to the Specialty Pharmacy Times® Industry Guide. One of our goals with this annual guide is to provide the industry and the overall marketplace with a tool to understand the process of commercializing a specialty product, with a specific focus on the supply chain. What follows is an outline that has proven to be successful in the launch of dozens of specialty products. I encourage you to review the guide in its entirety for insights into best practices.

One of several key decisions a manu- facturer must make when launching a new product is its distribution strategy. As the market has shifted from traditional community-based products to specialty medications, expanded solutions to better serve these products have evolved. High-touch, focused pharmacy solutions have emerged that are targeted toward maximizing patient outcomes for specialty products. Specialty pharmacy offers a greater level of patient care but also brings more complexity and the need for greater understanding to identify the right solution.


A manufacturer that is contemplating a distribution strategy for the launch of a new product should be in the planning phase early from its anticipated launch date. Several critical variables need to be weighed when selecting a strategy. Often led by the supply chain department, the selection team should strategically evaluate its options. If a manufacturer does not have a team, a handful of experienced consultants are available who can drive the process of strategy, selection, and implementation.

Below are sample flow charts delineat- ing the process, accompanied by a list of significant milestones. Figure 1 focuses on the actual specialty supply chain and Figure 2 focuses on outward facing sales and marketing infrastructure.


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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