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 $13.3bn - 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.
Following oncology, therapeutic areas with high sales volumes for specialty distributors include supportive care, including anemia treatments and blood modifiers (14 percent or $4.1bn); anti-inflammatories, such as treatments for rheumatoid arthritis (13 percent or $3.8bn); hematology products for blood diseases and disorders (8 percent or $2.3bn); and orphan drugs, or pharmaceuticals developed for rare conditions (4 percent or $1.2bn).
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.
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 $67.8bn in 2010 (increasing 6.3 percent from the previous year). This is split between specialty distributors ($29bn); and traditional distributors (between $33 and $37bn), 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 $4.8bn 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.
Source: Healthcare Supply Chain Research
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