By Linda Matthews
The U.S. specialty pharmaceutical market is expected to reach $387 billion by 2026, while the global rare disease market, currently valued at $179 billion, is projected to grow more than threefold—to $623 billion—in the next 10 years. Rare diseases, which affect an estimated 300 million people worldwide and approximately 25 to 30 million in the U.S., are an undeniably significant priority. As unmet and urgent needs continue to rise, the healthcare landscape must shift and adapt in response. That means developing new therapies and care delivery systems, increasing access to life-saving treatments, and implementing better distribution networks.
One of the biggest forces shaping the future of our industry is the emergence of customized medicine. Gene therapies and other treatments that are tailored to specific patient issues are fundamentally transforming healthcare as a whole and the specialty pharmaceutical market in particular, from manufacturing to distribution. To survive and thrive, to successfully meet new patient needs and customer expectations, we need to come together as leaders from all sides of the business, and we need to rethink roles, channels, and models.
Here are three thought starters to ignite change and unleash the future of specialty distribution.
Implementing a High-Touch Service Model
Distributing customized treatments and therapies for orphan and ultra-rare diseases requires customized solutions and personalized service. The innovation that is inherent to the development and manufacturing phase should not stop there: it must be part of the entire product journey. The specialty distributor of the future will actively build partnerships and prioritize open communication and collaboration with its customers. Being agile and flexible to meet new demands and construct new solutions will be critical. Equally critical is actively building trust through human connection, every step of the way. With new paradigms come new challenges, so it is essential to listen and truly understand customers’ evolving needs, to be highly responsive and nimble as part of the problem-solving process, and to look outside of the confines and limitations of the past.
Prioritizing Patient Care
In specialty distribution, a few minutes can make a dramatic difference in the success of treatment and patient outcomes. When you layer in customized medicine, with therapies that are designed to address very specific patient issues, prioritizing care, and with it, speed, access and efficiency, is more vital than ever before. In other words, getting the right therapy in the right hands at the right time. As a distributor, enabling healthcare providers to provide excellent care should always be the primary focus. It requires a shift in mindset from transporting a product to helping save a life, thinking about the patient on the other end, and designing every aspect of the process with the patient and the customer in mind.
Anticipating Needs and Unleashing New Possibilities
Looking ahead is essential in every industry but especially so when the future brings new treatments and solutions for rare, ultra-rare and orphan diseases. As new research emerges, as new tools and ideas are embraced, and as they lead to increasingly viable treatments, there is immense potential to be explored. Yet we also need to prepare for a set of new challenges, which may require deep transformation. How can we better serve our patients’ and customers’ needs? Are we creating solutions based on what is newly possible? In what ways do we need to adapt, and what do we need to radically rethink? For leaders across the healthcare, biotech and pharmaceutical industries navigating a changing environment, these are important questions we should ask, as we come together to chart a new way forward.