Center for Healthcare Supply Chain Research Releases Specialty Pharmaceutical Distribution: Facts, Figures and Trends

ARLINGTON, Va., December 3, 2015 — HDMA’s Center for Healthcare Supply Chain Research has published the latest edition of its annual benchmarking publication, Specialty Pharmaceutical Distribution: Facts, Figures and Trends (2015 Edition). The seventh edition is sponsored by CuraScript Specialty Distribution; Genentech, A Member of the Roche Group; and Pharmacy First.

The publication highlights major characteristics of the specialty pharmaceutical segment — valued at $124 billion in the U.S. in 2014 ($228 billion globally), according to IMS Heath. Formulated for patients with chronic or rare diseases, specialty products typically require special handling, storage, delivery and regulations; the book details the vital role that specialty distributors play to support the safe and efficient delivery of these complex medications. It also highlights the various distribution models, payer influences on the segment, the evolving role of biosimilars and the continued growth of oncology products.

Along with secondary data from leading healthcare organizations, primary survey data were collected from HDMA-member specialty distributors, which currently manage 40 percent of the total U.S. specialty volume handled by distributors and reported sales of $1 billion or more in 2014. Among the findings reported for 2014:

  • Sales growth for branded and generic specialty drugs continued in the U.S., at a compound annual growth rate of 12 percent from 2009 to 2014.
  • Once again, oncology represented the highest percentage of sales volume for specialty distributors in 2014, at 46.3 percent (increasing from 2013). Products categorized as “other” and hemophilia drugs rounded out the top three at 13.3 and 12 percent, respectively (decreasing from 2013).
  • A typical HDMA-member specialty distributor picks, on average, nearly 12,000 lines per business day, at a 99.4 percent fill rate; these companies then deliver to more than unique 27,000 ship-to points in less than 24 hours (17.3 hours on average). Nearly 3,200 orders are received daily.
  • Because of the fragile nature of these shipments, all distributors report using some type of cold chain handling while in transit, with refrigeration being the most common. Meanwhile, ice packs are the most used form of packing used in shipments.
  • Approximately 1.1 percent of specialty pharmaceutical selling units were returned to distributors.
  • Sales to independent physician-owned and -operated clinics increased to 70 percent (from 63 percent in 2013). Meanwhile, sales to hospitals (17 percent) and hospital-owned/-operated clinics (4 percent) decreased.
  • Distributor respondents report having contractual agreements in place with nearly 160 manufacturers; they also continue to provide a variety of support services to these companies, including supply chain services, patient and provider support, marketing, and financial and regulatory management, among others.

“The Center is pleased to add the latest edition of this publication to its growing body of research on this unique pharmaceutical segment,” said Karen J. Ribler, Executive Vice President and COO of the Center for Healthcare Supply Chain Research. “As noted in this new edition, specialty distributors continued to provide extraordinary service levels to their manufacturer and dispenser trading partners, creating overall supply chain efficiencies.”

Specialty Pharmaceutical Distribution: Facts, Figures and Trends may be downloaded for $250 as a single-use PDF from Team and corporate-use licenses also are available. Visit the Center website for further details.

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 two-fold: 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 15 million prescription medicines and healthcare products are delivered safely and efficiently to more than 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

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