Friday, March 02, 2007

A New Era for Distribution

We seem to be entering a new era for the pharmaceutical distribution channel – one in which the regulatory “rules of the game” become more important than ever for marketplace success.

Back in September, I wrote about Pfizer’s UK drug distribution deal with Alliance UniChem. (See Pfizer's UK Deal: Change is Here!.) As I noted, Pfizer, has two legitimate objectives for this deal:
  1. Lower the risk of counterfeit products entering the supply chain
  2. Recapture lost revenue from parallel importing
Now, a group of UK distributors is seeking an injunction against this new strategy on the eve of its introduction next Monday. (See Drug wholesalers go to court to block Pfizer deal). I don’t know enough about UK law to handicap the outcome.

But in reading this article, it strikes me that we are seeing more wholesaler-to-wholesaler conflicts playing out in the legal and public policy realm. Last year saw secondary wholesalers successfully block the FDA’s implementation of the PDMA with a Federal injunction. (It's Official: PDMA is Back On Hold). RxUSA, the wholesaler who lead that effort, is simultaneously pursuing legal actions against McKesson, many manufacturers, and the HDMA. There was also friction surrounding Florida’s pedigree law between the large drug wholesalers, secondary drug wholesalers, and med/surg wholesalers. (See H.B. 371 signed by Gov. Bush ).

I’m not ready to draw a firm conclusion about all of this activity yet. But I wonder if we are now at an inflection point for the drug distribution industry.

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