Specialty drugs have been a major growth area for pharmaceuticals and are expected to grow even more in the next several years. Specialty drugs have one or more of the following characteristics:
- High cost – generally this is greater than $600 per month as set forth in the Medicare Part D regulations.
- Indicated for the treatment of a chronic, rare illness.
- Products are usually injectable or infused, although some products (such as oral oncolytics) may be oral or have some other type of administration.
- Complex manufacturing process in association with the production of the product (not usually small molecules).
- Special storage and handling (such as refrigeration) requirements might be needed.
- Complex monitoring for patient compliance, persistency and side effects may be required.
- May be covered under the medical benefit, pharmacy benefit, or, in some cases, both.
The FDA is expected to approve a record 25 specialty drugs this year! Spending in the U.S. on specialty drugs – to treat chronic, complex diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis – is projected to increase 67% by the end of this year.
Source: Express Scripts
There are a number of models that a pharma company can utilize with the launch (and beyond) of their specialty drug product and companies to date vary in their approach to specialty pharmacy (SP):
- Some use one specific SP to handle distribution and other aspects;
- Some use a small group (3-5) SPS to handle distribution and other services;
- Some have an open network utilizing as many as 10-15 SPs;
- Some direct all patients and providers through a centralized hub that determines the services and distribution options for the patient and directs them accordingly.
Whether you use one or more SPs in your network / HUB, you might not know what your end-user customers (physicians, nurses, billing staff, patients, etc.) think about those specialty pharmacies. In many cases, pharma companies set up a network / HUB and just assume it is meeting the needs of their end-user customers. These pharmacies (and the services they provide – or don’t) reflect on your product, so you need to be absolutely sure that they are meeting the needs of your end-user customers.
It is entirely possible that you launched your product with no research done to determine the effectiveness of the various SPs that are being utilized and how end-user customers perceive their value.
Cadence Research & Consulting can help you to determine customer feedback about each SP in order to understand (among other things):
- Do your customers value the SPs in your network? If so, are there certain aspects they are lacking?
- Should you consider eliminating an SP from your network / HUB? Are there other SPs that you are considering?
- What are the services provided by each SP in your network / HUB (benchmarking)?
- What services could you add to improve the functioning of your network / HUB?
If we can be of service to you in this area, please contact Greg Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would welcome the opportunity to work with you.