Limitless Opportunity in Limited Distribution: Seven Strategies for Specialty Pharmacy

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Specialty Pharmacy By the Numbers

Top of mind in specialty pharmacy these days is the shrinking size of limited distribution drug (LDD) networks. While the trend of drug manufacturers “cherry picking” their specialty providers has resulted in a distribution pie with fewer slices, health systems should take this opportunity to position their specialty pharmacy for LDD access. Organizations like Acentrus Specialty form networks to connect health systems with manufacturers and resource partners in an effort to break down access silos.

It may sound like a paradox, but shrinking LDD networks signal potential for health system specialty pharmacy. Over the past decade, the trend has been toward using smaller networks for launching newer specialty drugs. The reason why is clear—health system specialty pharmacies are ideal partners because they can provide:

  • A substantial healthcare presence, often at the regional or national level
  • A significant research enterprise
  • A high patient volume in key therapeutic areas
  • Exceptional patient care
  • Reportable outcomes

These advantages are sought after by manufacturers because specialty drugs require extra patient care services and clinical data reporting. In addition, a growing focus on value-based contracting is holding drug providers accountable for delivering outcomes that are optimal, measurable, and economically viable.

Hospitals are the front line for treating patients, and relationships with patients and clinicians are key. Heath system specialty pharmacy shines in this area because of its clinical infrastructure. Data is also crucial because drug manufacturers are seeking an in-depth understanding of how their therapies function throughout the treatment cycle.

An important emerging trend with LDD networks is the value network administrators provide to manufacturers. Instead of manufacturers working with individual hospitals to coordinate and manage their individual data requirements, they are outsourcing data collection, formatting and exporting to third parties, such as Acentrus. This trend decreases cost for the manufacturer and improves the quality and consistency of the data reporting.

So what can health systems do to gain access to shrinking LDD networks? The answer is to leverage your strengths with these seven strategies:

  1. Emphasize your patient volume in key therapeutic areas
  2. Identify and communicate to manufacturers the centers of excellence within your organization
  3. Obtain specialty pharmacy accreditation(s) that certify high standards of patient care
  4. Develop data capabilities (either internally or through a third-party vendor) and collect meaningful metrics
  5. Partner with a specialty pharmacy network to streamline data aggregation
  6. Encourage health system thought leaders and researchers to participate in conferences and other high-profile activities
  7. Develop a proactive pipeline approach to new drugs coming to market by:
    • Keeping up to date on the status of Phase II and Phase III medications
    • Engaging your medical researchers and C-suite leaders with the value of LDD access
    • Discussing strategies within your institution to obtain access to LDD medications
    • Determining if you have the capabilities to serve a substantial market share

As an integrated delivery network and health system solution serving specialty pharmacy, Acentrus provides LDD access, advocacy, peer exchange, and expertise that empowers network clients to deliver exceptional, cost-effective, local, integrated specialty pharmacy care through a portfolio of services, products, and best practices. For more information, visit

Walt Woods, DPh, MMHC
Walt is a pharmacist with more than 30 years of experience in specialty pharmacy operations at a major medical center and several years as a specialty pharmacy consultant. As an Acentrus Account Implementation Manager, he works with health systems and hospitals to implement strong specialty pharmacy solutions that deliver exceptional value for Acentrus clients, patients, payers, and manufacturers.