Friday, April 21, 2017

How Manufacturers Can Benefit From Unified Specialty Support Services

Today’s guest post comes from Tom Doyle, Executive Vice President of Commercial Solutions at H. D. Smith.

To prepare for impending market changes, Tom suggests that a manufacturer’s commercial team partner with a flexible, integrated services provider to increase market share and optimize the patient journey. He also discusses mid-tier specialty products and the need for such cost-effective solutions as Triplefin's Hub-Lite approach.

Click here to download H.D. Smith’s free white paper on specialty product launch planning. You can also visit H.D. Smith’s companies at Booth #200 during Asembia’s 2017 Specialty Pharmacy Summit in Las Vegas.

Read on for Tom’s insights.

How Manufacturers Can Benefit From Unified Specialty Support Services
By Tom Doyle, Executive Vice President of Commercial Solutions, H. D. Smith

The healthcare market is in the midst of a turbulent transformation, shaping distribution channels and support services required to ensure patients benefit from innovative pharmaceutical products. Today, manufacturers are challenged in this new landscape:
  • Retail products face significant reimbursement and channel access barriers.
  • Specialty products are becoming more accessible through improved delivery systems.
  • “Tweener” drugs that do not fit into traditional specialty or retail support models have emerged.
Consequently, it is critical for manufacturers to innovate across the patient and product journey.

Taking center stage among the changes in this evolving market is a holistic hub support approach that addresses the needs of the patient, provider and payer, while decreasing operational costs. At H.D. Smith, we believe that a unified suite of solutions strengthens a manufacturer’s brand in the market.


Manufacturers’ commercial teams need external partners that are flexible, provide a full range of solutions, offer greater operational efficiencies, and move quickly to ensure all stakeholders are embraced.

Most commercial teams have spent years developing a product and market for a successful launch, yet may lack either the internal resources or external partnerships to fully support commercialization. When seeking to develop strategic partnerships, it is important to align with the capabilities of your partners. This ensures that culture and long-term objectives are focused on creating value across the supply chain.

This approach is especially crucial for emerging pharmaceutical companies, which often struggle to find a single provider that will develop customized solutions for smaller product launches.

The management of the current environment’s maze of services can be challenging and may start at different points in the supply chain. In many cases, physical storage and distribution are the entry points. For others, significant market-access challenges direct initial commercialization efforts toward reimbursement solutions. By choosing a partner that can facilitate a full set of solutions through a modular Hub platform, brand teams have the flexibility to add or remove programs as needs change.

By focusing on each step in the product journey during initial assessment of an emerging company’s needs, flexible partners can improve access and reduce program costs through a truly integrated approach.

A strategic partner can also create significant value by incorporating data from 3PL, distribution, sampling, patient assistance, pharmacy and affordability solutions through one provider. This connectivity of data enables the pharmaceutical company to use resources to improve the patient and provider experience, and the supply chain partner to provide a comprehensive and integrated view of a brand’s performance.


The need for flexibility and creativity is not limited to emerging companies. Today, each brand launch is unique. Commercial teams should consider new approaches before placing a product into traditional distribution models or even established specialty channels.

Hub models supporting high-priced infused or injectable biologics are well established for specialty products targeting small patient populations. Historically, these products were often “buy-and-bill” with reimbursement managed through patients’ major medical benefit and distribution controlled through clinics or limited networks of specialty pharmacies.

Today, the models are rapidly changing with infused products often transitioning to oral or self-administered delivery systems, and reimbursement becoming a mix of major medical and pharmacy benefits.

An additional layer of complexity is the emergence of mid-tier specialty (“tweener”) products, which are set to dominate growth in the specialty space. These products can range in price from $300 to over $2,000 dollars per month. They are lower cost than traditional specialty products, yet require many of the high-touch solutions provided by a hub, such as benefit verification, prior authorization and case management. The alignment of patient support and product distribution is integral in this category because channel configuration can include retail, specialty and direct-to-patient models.

Strong coordination of all services becomes a critical factor given the complexity of communication and operational processes throughout the supply chain.

Learn how connectivity of your partner is crucial to the success of your brand at Visit with representatives from the collective H. D. Smith companies at Booth #200 at Asembia’s Specialty Pharmacy Summit, which is being held from April 30 to May 3 in Las Vegas.

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