Friday, September 21, 2018

It’s Time to Rethink Channel Strategy for Oral Oncolytics

Today’s guest post comes from Akin Odutola, Senior Vice President, Specialty and Branded Product Access, Strategic Global Sourcing, at AmerisourceBergen.

Akin discusses the challenges facing patients treated with oral oncology drugs in community practices and health systems. He then describes AmerisourceBergen’s solution for coordinating patient care and providing aggregated specialty pharmacy data from healthcare providers.

To learn more, download Rethink: Channel Strategy for Oral Oncolytics.

Read on for Akin’s insights.

It’s Time to Rethink Channel Strategy for Oral Oncolytics
By Akin Odutola, Senior Vice President, Specialty and Branded Product Access, Strategic Global Sourcing, AmerisourceBergen

Many manufacturers think that “less is more” when designing a specialty pharmacy network. Oral oncolytics are no exception. The myth persists. A manufacturer may consider limiting a product’s specialty pharmacy network for a variety of reasons that may include: garnering greater control over the patient experience surrounding the product, influencing the manner of patient access and support; easier aggregation of specialty pharmacy data; and/or reducing the volume of product held in the supply chain.

But is a channel strategy that distances the prescriber from the patient really best for the patient?


Health systems are establishing their own specialty pharmacies in record numbers. In fact, as Drug Channels shared in A Record Number of Specialty Pharmacies Now Have Accreditation, provider-owned specialty pharmacies are the fastest-growing category of accredited specialty pharmacies.

With the most complete view of each patient through the electronic health record, health systems can provide more integrated, comprehensive care for cancer patients receiving complex treatment regimens. For health systems taking on financial risk for patient outcomes, developing specialty dispensing and related patient services allows them to retain greater clinical oversight and more effectively manage patients across the continuum of care.


The unintended consequence of a limited network is that patients being treated in both community practices and health systems face restricted product access. Limited networks may force patients to deal with multiple specialty pharmacies, complicating their treatment experience.

And perhaps even more importantly, the patient’s full care team is unable to provide the same degree of clinical oversight when they are disconnected from the specialty pharmacy dispensing the product that provides pre- and post-dispense patient services. When manufacturers restrict access to provider-led specialty pharmacies, they ignore the role that health system SPs and community oncology practices play in coordinating and supporting patient care—a level of care coordination that can shorten time to treatment and improve outcomes.


With a leading market position in specialty pharmaceuticals, AmerisourceBergen creates a marketplace where manufacturers can ensure providers and their patients have access to critical therapies. We are pioneering two important solutions that will impact manufacturer channel strategy choices in the oral oncology space.
  • Clinically coordinated care: When a provider-led specialty pharmacy cannot access a product needed to support a patient’s treatment, it can be the result of a manufacturer’s limited distribution network, restrictions within the provider’s payer contracts, limitations with the specialty pharmacy’s accreditations or even readiness to support the unique requirements that come with specific treatments.

    In any of these cases, providers need a partner, a trusted specialty pharmacy that can function as an extension of their treatment and clinical relationship with the patient. That’s an ideal case for the provider-led model, wherein a specialty pharmacy partner works with the health system or physician practice to provide dispensing services when limited distribution networks or other constraints create a barrier that limits their ability to serve the patient. Not only does the specialty pharmacy dispense the medication, the team works with each referring practice or health system to develop an approach for clinically coordinated care.
  • SP data aggregation: Manufacturers are increasingly looking toward dispensing and clinical outcomes data to better characterize product performance. Historically, harvesting meaningful specialty pharmacy and patient-level data has meant entering into agreements with individual specialty pharmacies and niche data aggregators, then pulling it all together in-house for a full-market view. These additional contracting activities present an incremental burden on manufacturer time and expense and represent a key limiting factor in providing product access to the desired patient community. AmerisourceBergen is developing a solution that allows data and product access to 100+ pharmacies through a single contract an end-to-end view of the product’s journey, from supply chain analytics to pharmacy effectiveness.
Overcoming the many challenges inherent to oral cancer therapy demands coordinated care. To learn more about enabling access and supporting adherence at the most appropriate site of care, download our ebook: Rethink: Channel Strategy for Oral Oncolytics.

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