Building An Integrated Biopharma Commercialization Services Offering
Thought Leadership In Association with AmerisourceBergen
AmerisourceBergen (ABC) wants pharmaceutical manufacturers to see its broad commercialization portfolio as an integrated, scalable, and customizable suite of services that can boost cost efficiencies, quality and value.
The portfolio includes – but isn't limited to – World Courier, which manages specialty logistics for global clinical trials, ICS, a third-party specialty logistics business, Lash Group, a patient support services company and Xcenda, a strategic consultancy with expertise in health economics and outcomes research, reimbursement, health policy, market research, and market access strategy.
"What we are trying to do is offer these services in an integrated manner so we can bring even more value to the manufacturers," said James Cleary, AmerisourceBergen's Executive Vice President & Group President of Global Commercialization Services and Animal Health.
"One thing that we're really focused on as a company is integrated business offerings and services, to take everything we offer, or much of what we have to offer, and make them available to manufacturers to provide better service," he explained. Through the integrated offerings, "we can achieve everything from improved cost efficiency and time efficiency to quality improvement and better outcomes."
Cleary was tapped to head the Global Commercialization Services and Animal Health group as part of a company-wide realignment announced in June. He previously headed ABC's animal health business, and joined the company in 2015 when MWI Veterinary Supply was acquired.
With ABC's new organizational structure, the company's customer-facing offerings are now aligned under two core operating groups – Pharmaceutical Distribution & Strategic Global Sourcing and Global Commercialization Services & Animal Health. Robert Mauch, Pharm.D., Ph.D., leads the Pharmaceuti- cal Distribution and Strategic Global Sourcing group.
The realignment aims in part to elevate the importance of the commercialization solutions businesses and create a more unified suite of services that further align the organization to its customers' needs.
The commercialization group is much smaller than the distribution group in terms of revenues but it comprises high-margin businesses with strong growth potential. It accounts for about 4% of overall company revenue but contributes 20% of operating income, the company reported in its third quarter earnings summary in August.
As part of its commitment to support pharmaceutical manufacturers' evolving needs, ABC has made a significant investment in technology and innovation to "transform" the patient support services offered by the Lash Group, Cleary said.
Fusion Patient Support Technologies Launched
The product of that investment is a novel patient support technology "ecosystem" called Fusion. Announced Oct. 4, the new system combines best-in-class technologies with workflows that are customized for patient support services. It also features a proprietary, advanced data model that enables Lash Group to provide a seamless experience for patients, providers and manufacturers.
ABC'S Global Commercialization Services and Animal Health Group
- Profarma joint venture for logistics and patient services in Brazil (launched 2014)
- World Courier clinical trial logistics (acquired 2012)
- Innomar third-party logistics and patient services in Canada (acquired 2009)
- Cameron Stewart LifeScience (acquired 2009)
- Xcenda health economics and reimbursement consultancy (acquired 2007)
- Lash Group patient services (acquired 1998)
- ICS third-party logistics for specialty drugs (founded in 1997 by AmerisourceBergen)
- Health Forward
(founded in 2012 by the president of Innomar)
- Premier Source (acquired in 2011)
- AmerisourceBergen Animal Health
(founded in 2015 with the acquisition of MWI Veterinary Supply).
The Animal Health business is comprised of:
- MWI Animal Health
- Centaur Services
- Micro Technologies
- Securos Surgical
- St. Francis Group
- Vet Space
"Pharmaceutical manufacturers face a growing array of new challenges in the market," Cleary said in the release on the announcement. "Intense competition, rising commercialization costs, disaggregated data, consumerism and a shift to value- based care are key issues that complicate the commercialization process. Fusion enables Lash Group to provide greater support to manufacturers, while also increasing efficiency and providing a more comprehensive set of services throughout the patient journey and product lifecycle."
Fusion can help manufacturers achieve a number of important objectives, ABC says. They include accelerating access to treatment through workflow efficiencies, automated decision making and streamlined administrative tasks. The system can also leverage emerging technologies like artificial intelligence for benefit verification and offers multi-channel communication capabilities to remove barriers to therapy.
Fusion can improve patient and provider engagement through technologies like Computer-Telephony Integration to create a "simpler, more intuitive set of interactions." And it can generate "actionable insights" through quality data management, real-time reports and dashboards, targeted analytics available through mobile devices, competitive intelligence and a more "holistic view" of the patient experience, according to the company.
Cancer Drug Launches Tap Multiple ABC Services
An oncology drug manufacturer will be the first to use the Fusion system to launch its product, Cleary said. The manufacturer has also contracted for several other ABC services to commercialize the drug, which is an example of the kind of multi-service vendor relationship ABC is looking to promote.
"There's one ovarian cancer drug manufacturer that, for in- stance, used Xcenda for health economics pre-product launch. Lash does the patient support services. Our US Bioservices distributes the product through its specialty pharmacy and our Oncology Supply business also distributes the product to oncologists. They have a contract with ION, our oncology buying group, and they'll be the first company to launch on Fusion."
"That's how we can offer all these services and provide more value to a manufacturer."
Another example involves the launch of a lung cancer drug in Brazil. Because patient eligibility for treatment is dependent on biomarker testing, the manufacturer was concerned about how long the process would take, Cleary noted.
"So they outsourced it to us and we had our patient services business there…to get patients into a clinic to do a blood draw. World Courier got the sample to a lab where the biomarker testing was done, then patient services communicated results back" to the provider.
"We were able to combine all those services and reduce that biomarker testing process from 30 to five days," which "obviously brought a lot of value to the patient, the manufacturer and the doctor," Cleary said. "The manufacturer gave us an award and recognition for doing that."
ABC's commercialization services are positioned to build upon and expand the company's reputation as the leading distributor of specialty drugs by adapting to new cutting-edge treatments in today's pipeline, Cleary said during a presentation at the company's annual manufacturer summit, ThinkLive 2017, in Dallas on Oct. 4.
"Our solutions have been at the forefront of nearly every single biologic and specialty pharmaceutical product that has entered the market over the last 20 years and we're ready to apply that expertise to the next generation of groundbreaking innovation." - Jim Cleary
"AmerisourceBergen understands that new therapies demand a commercialization partner that can evolve and adapt at the pace of product innovation," he said. "Our solutions have been at the forefront of nearly every single biologic and specialty pharmaceutical product that has entered the market over the last 20 years and we're ready to apply that expertise to the next generation of groundbreaking innovation."