Report: Specialty pharmaceutical distributors helped industry save billions

ARLINGTON, Va. — Distributors of specialty drugs save the healthcare industry an estimated $3.5 billion per year by using extensive measures to ensure safe delivery, according to a new report by the Center for Healthcare Supply Chain Research, the research foundation of the Healthcare Distribution Management Association.

The report, titled “Specialty Pharmaceuticals and the Role of the Specialty Distributor,” indicated that the savings — which total about $8 billion when traditional distributors that handle specialty drugs are included — derive from distributors’ skills in preserving and delivering delicate medicines in high-tech, cold-chain and just-in-time delivery systems.

Unlike traditional pharmaceuticals, specialty drugs — which include biologics that are used to treat such complex and chronic conditions as cancers, orphan diseases and inflammatory disorders — often require special care and must be kept away from excessive heat, humidity and light, and in many cases can’t be shaken.

“This research spotlights the vast and indispensable services that specialty pharmaceutical distributors deliver in the fastest-growing sector of the pharmaceutical industry,” Center for Healthcare Supply Chain Research EVP and COO Karen Ribler said. “They provide lifesaving medicines to many of society’s most vulnerable patients, and they do it with exceptional skill and quality that lowers the cost of health care.”

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