Oncology Drugs Comprise Nearly Half of Specialty Distributor Sales Volume, New Study from the Center for Healthcare Supply Chain

2011 Specialty Pharmaceuticals Describes Unique Nature of Booming Healthcare Segment

ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 7, 2011  /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- One of the fastest-growing therapeutic areas in the specialty pharmaceutical segment, oncology, comprises 46 percent of annual sales volume for specialty distributors in this sector — or approximately $13.3 billion — according to the new 2011 Specialty Pharmaceuticals: Facts, Figures and Trends, published by the Center for Healthcare Supply Chain Research. The Center is the non-profit research foundation of the Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA).

Following oncology, therapeutic areas with high sales volumes for specialty distributors include supportive care, including anemia treatments and blood modifiers (14 percent or $4.1 billion); anti-inflammatories, such as treatments for rheumatoid arthritis (13 percent or $3.8 billion); hematology products for blood diseases and disorders (8 percent or $2.3 billion); and orphan drugs, or pharmaceuticals developed for rare conditions (4 percent or $1.2 billion).

In its third edition, Specialty Pharmaceuticals presents primary survey data gathered from specialty distributors and manufacturers in this sector, accompanied by secondary research from leading healthcare organizations. The report explores such trends as market characteristics; finance; operations and handling; transportation and delivery; returns; information technology; and, specialty therapeutic areas. This year's edition is produced with support from CuraScript SD Specialty Distribution, an Express Scripts Company; Johnson & Johnson Health Care Systems, Inc.; McKesson Specialty Health; and, SpecialtyFirst™.  

As defined in the report, specialty pharmaceutical products are often biologically derived and dispensed to treat individuals with chronic or rare diseases. They generally have characteristics ranging from special handling, storage or delivery requirements to exclusive product availability and limited distribution. And because they do treat patients in certain therapeutic categories, they often entail complex treatment regimes that call for ongoing clinical monitoring and patient education.

The specialty segment represents much of the growth (along with generics) in an industry that largely has experienced economic decline as many traditional branded pharmaceuticals have come off patent. While the global market for total pharmaceutical products grew 4.2 percent in 2010, sales of specialty drugs increased 7.5 percent — and are anticipated to continue to grow at a rate greater than the total pharmaceutical market. The U.S. market for specialty pharmaceuticals reached $67.8 billion in 2010 (increasing 6.3 percent from the previous year). This is split between specialty distributors ($29 billion); and traditional distributors (between $33 and $37 billion), who distribute a broad range of pharmaceuticals, including specialty products. Also of note, biosimilars (or new versions of biopharmaceuticals whose patents have expired) represent an emerging market within the specialty sector, and is expected to reach $4.8 billion by 2015.

The study also finds that specialty distributors delivered products to 40,000 individual ship-to points in 2010, with an average 15 days of inventory in their warehouses. Nearly three-fourths of all of these delivery points were independent, physician-owned or -operated clinics.

"As branded pharmaceuticals go off patent in the years ahead and pharmaceutical manufacturers explore new and innovative ways to introduce new products into the pipeline, the market for specialty products will continue to thrive," said Karen J. Ribler, Executive Vice President and COO of the Center for Healthcare Supply Chain Research. "Our research spotlights key trends that will define this groundbreaking market in the years ahead."  

2011 Specialty Pharmaceuticals: Facts, Figures and Trends is now available for purchase for $185 through the HDMA Marketplace at www.ShopHDMA.org. For more information, visit www.HCSupplyChainResearch.org.

About the Center for Healthcare Supply Chain Research
The Center for Healthcare Supply Chain Research is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization that serves as the knowledge partner of the Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA). The Center serves the healthcare industry by providing research and education focused on healthcare supply chain issues. The Center's mission is twofold: to conduct research and disseminate information that will enhance the knowledge base, efficiency and effectiveness of the total healthcare supply chain; and to provide thought leadership to further enhance the safety and security of the healthcare supply chain through future-focused study and programming.

About HDMA
HDMA is the national association representing primary healthcare distributors, the vital link between the nation's pharmaceutical manufacturers and healthcare providers. Each business day, HDMA member companies ensure that nearly nine million prescription medicines and healthcare products are delivered safely and efficiently to nearly 200,000 pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics and others nationwide. HDMA and its members work daily to provide value and achieve cost savings, an estimated $42 billion each year to our nation's healthcare system. For more information, visit www.HealthcareDistribution.org.

SOURCE Center for Healthcare Supply Chain Research