Choosing the Right Channel Strategy for Specialty Product Success

In Clinical Development, Market Access, Orphan Drug Congress, Supply Chain & Manufacturing, Uncategorized, Whitepapers by Karina Kusova

Authors: Donna Gilbert, VP Specialty and Branded Strategic Accounts, Global Sourcing and Manufacturer Relations, AmerisourceBergen
Akin Odutola, Senior Vice President, Specialty and Branded Product Access, Global Sourcing and Manufacturer Relations, AmerisourceBergen

For pharmaceutical companies, the right channel strategy can mean the difference between a successful specialty product launch and failure to meet forecasts. Full-line wholesale, specialty distribution, specialty pharmacy networks and direct models can all present very different outcomes, each with unique sets of advantages and potential limitations. Pharmaceutical companies must understand how distribution decisions impact patient access and product success.

Patient expectations and involvement in their own treatment are growing. As is provider demand for specialty therapies. At the same time, downstream customer pressures, patient population, product storage risk and sales targets are influencing manufacturers’ distribution strategies. But there are also a number of unintended consequences and costly implications often overlooked.

With these evolving healthcare trends, it’s important that any brand team speak with channel stakeholders who are experienced in delivering the right product to the right patient. These insights will help a manufacturer evaluate distribution and customer channel decisions, understand the truth behind common misconceptions and ultimately develop a successful channel strategy.

For example, with pharmacy benefit products, there is a persistent myth that “less is more” when designing a specialty pharmacy (SP) network. But what if you knew that for some products, a restricted or closed SP network could significantly impede access to your product? Channel strategy should mean ensuring access to your product in all appropriate channels to minimize complexity for patients and healthcare providers. This is why, for savvy manufacturers, the process of evaluating channel strategy and distribution partners begins as far in advance as two years pre-launch.

Another common misconception is that innovation ensures product success. For manufacturers of first-to-market products, there is a temptation to disrupt the supply chain with their distribution strategies. They neglect to consider how much disruption their customer is willing to tolerate. Distribution strategies that force providers away from their regular workflows, and novel therapies further away from a patient’s preferred site of care, can have unintended consequences that make practical care delivery more complicated.

In today’s dynamic market, manufacturers must look beyond class of drug to additional considerations around access and value. Partnerships can help manufacturers weigh the real-world impact of their decisions. The right distribution partner can help evaluate how channel strategy might affect customers and patients, guiding channel strategy decisions with experience and a product’s clinical roadmap in mind.

To learn more about channel strategy and its impact on product access and commercial success, download our ebook, “Changing Channels

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