Building a Bridge Between a New Specialty Drug and Specialty Pharmacies


As specialty pharmacy continues to rapidly grow, it has become an essential consideration for industry stakeholders. Driving this growth are manufacturers that create specialty medications for chronic and complex disease states and the health care stakeholders working to manage the expense of these medications.
The biopharmaceutical drug pipeline focuses on specialty drugs and rare diseases. Today, specialty pharmacy drugs are more often available in a dosage form that patients can administer themselves, such as a tablet, capsule, pill, patch, or subcutaneous injection.
However, specialty drugs may have special requirements for handling procedures and administration, including the necessity of having rigidly controlled environments (e.g., highly specific temperature controls) to ensure product integrity.
What’s more, they are often only available through a limited distribution network, such as a network of specialty pharmacies, which has proven to be a key hurdle for manufacturers of specialty drugs who need to gain access to patients and payer networks. This is why most manufacturers want to utilize specialty pharmacies that have the capability to effectively and efficiently serve patients, providers, and payers.
Hub services providers have paralleled the growth of specialty pharmaceuticals and have played a major role in managing the increasing complexity of their use. Approximately 15 years ago, Hub programs were created to help industry stakeholders manage the use of specialty drugs. Over this period, the market for Hub services has grown in complexity as industry stakeholders work to develop successful strategies.
As the Hub services marketplace evolves:
  • The number of companies entering the market to offer services continues to increase as they observe a growing opportunity.
  • The pace of mergers and acquisitions in the market is rising as companies seek to broaden their products and services and expand geographically.
  • Hub services providers are expanding facilities and staff as products and services they offer are becoming increasingly specialized.
  • Pharma manufacturers need to determine whether to offer a Hub service program in-house or through external vendors, often on a product by product basis.

With a deep understanding of the needs of the market, AMI developed a new solution that gives healthcare stakeholders the timely, accurate specialty pharmacy information.

The Challenge

A leading Hub service company* was working with one of its pharmaceutical clients to launch a new oncology drug and needed to gain market access and develop stronger relationships with patients and payer networks. The Hub determined that a specialty pharmacy network that possessed highly specific expertise in supporting patients with cancer and their complex treatment regimens would be needed. While evaluating the client’s request, the Hub realized that it needed to identify a source of business intelligence that would be able to identify specialty pharmacies that offered both pre- and post-dispense services. Specialty pharmacy services such as patient education, adherence monitoring, co-pay assistance, benefits investigations, and prior authorization support would help meet the pharmaceutical client’s needs. The Hub helped its client develop a drug distribution strategy that required limited distribution to serve a small patient population. The objective was to identify a small number of specialty pharmacies that had experience with dispensing limited distribution oncology drugs to include in its distribution network.

The pharmaceutical company and Hub established additional necessary specialty pharmacy criteria that included geographic coverage, accreditation status, and patient, payer, and pharma services offered. The Hub also needed to identify an executive contact and email address and phone number for the specialty pharmacies meeting its criteria.

The Solution

After assessing internal and external options to meet the client’s requirements, the Hub selected Access Market Intelligence (AMI) to provide the required business intelligence. AMI worked with the Hub to define the information needed and then utilized its comprehensive Specialty Pharmacy Database (SPD) to identify the specialty pharmacies that met the criteria.
With a deep understanding of the needs of the market, AMI has developed a new solution that gives healthcare stakeholders the timely, accurate information they need on specialty pharmacies. AMI launched its SPD in 2020 to meet the demand for more comprehensive intelligence on specialty pharmacies.
The subscription-based SPD, with 1,125+ pharmacy locations, updates its current records and adds new records daily. Each pharmacy record in the SPD includes 20 data items that provide the industry’s most comprehensive business intelligence on specialty pharmacies.

The Result

Using the SPD, AMI worked with the Hub to search the 1,125+ pharmacy records to identify the specialty pharmacies that had experience dispensing oncology drugs in a limited network.
After the first screening eliminated approximately 85% of the pharmacies in the database, AMI and the Hub further limited this group of specialty pharmacies by identifying those that had national geographic coverage. Additional screening followed that included those specialty pharmacies that had achieved both URAC and ACHC accreditation status. This screening reduced the list to approximately 25 specialty pharmacies.
The last screen was to identify the patient, payer, and pharmaceutical services offered by each of the specialty pharmacies and determine that they met both the pre- and post-dispense services identified by the pharmaceutical client.
With this final curated list of specialty pharmacies, AMI identified the pharmacy executive charge and their phone number and email address. The business intelligence provided by AMI’s SPD enabled the Hub to successfully meets its pharmaceutical client’s needs and begin to discuss establishing contracts with these specialty pharmacies.

About SPD

AMI’s Specialty Pharmacy Database (SPD) is the first and most comprehensive specialty pharmacy database that includes content relative to all specialty pharmacy stakeholders. This solves the problem of obtaining timely, difficult to obtain business intelligence on specialty pharmacies, including executive contacts and emails, limited distribution drugs dispensed, chronic conditions, and more.
By taking advantage of SPD’s database, forward-thinking stakeholders have a solution to an ongoing problem that will improve their ability to:
  • Determine market access and channel strategy by location,  chronic disease, limited distribution drugs dispensed, accreditation(s), and services provided.
  • Develop competitive profiles of specialty pharmacies as well as a strategy for possible expansion/acquisition/joint venture.
  •  Develop customer sales strategy by geography, chronic disease, and limited drugs dispensed.
  •  Develop a launch strategy for new entities entering the specialty pharmacy market, including independents and hospitals, and health systems.