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INSIGHTS

  • Kristy Frizzo

Best Practices for Improving Program Performance Through Well-Managed SP Relationships


Best Practices for Improving Program Performance Through Well-Managed SP Relationships


The relationship between specialty pharmacies and pharmaceutical manufacturers is vital to ensuring optimized patient access to critical specialty medications. Through a carefully crafted approach, these entities can develop partnerships that drive access and adherence while optimizing overall program performance. Archbow Consulting was selected to present a poster on this topic at the National Association of Specialty Pharmacy’s (NASP) Annual Meeting in September 2022. The poster, summarized in this blog post, includes eight best practices, lessons learned, and real-world insights gained from assisting multiple manufacturers improve their specialty pharmacy network designs through an aligned partnership approach focused on enhancing the prescriber and patient experience.


The best practices presented include:


  1. Select the Right Advisors Many manufacturers may be engaging specialty pharmacies for the first time as they commercialize their first product. And even seasoned market access executives may need support staying up to date on emerging specialty pharmacy market trends. In either case, it can be helpful for manufacturers to engage third-party subject matter experts, such as pharmaceutical consulting companies, to advise their team. Identifying advisors with real-world experience who understand how to optimize patient access is essential. Manufacturers can lean on these advisors for guidance on the impact of critical market trends.

  2. Allow Adequate Time for Building Specialty Pharmacy Relationships Specialty pharmacy relationships can and will significantly impact a manufacturer’s market access for their products. It’s important to “get it right” when engaging with pharmacies and developing a clear strategy for aligning that partnership is the best first step. Manufacturers should engage experts experienced in building relationships that benefit the patient and prescriber experience. If a manufacturer can gain an understanding of the current pain points in the market, they are better equipped to proactively consider opportunities for improved patient engagement.

  3. Develop a Clear Specialty Pharmacy Contracting Strategy The manufacturer and specialty pharmacy relationship begins with the contract, and it is critical to spend time ensuring the contract suits the needs of both parties. There are many considerations for a manufacturer looking to contract with a specialty pharmacy. It’s essential to research market financials and economic drivers as well as understand the impact of a pharmacy’s network size, drug class, and drug cost. With these points in mind, manufacturers should align contract language with clearly defined patient access and adherence goals.

  4. Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that Drive Program Performance Clear KPIs should align with a manufacturer brand’s strategic goals and help ensure the relationship remains successful. Manufacturers must consider the challenges that may impact KPIs and establish mitigation plans. While there are surely some performance metrics that a manufacturer will immediately have in mind, it’s best to survey the market to determine appropriate KPIs more broadly.

  5. Proactively Plan to Limit Change Orders and Other Potential Areas of Conflict Once a contract is in place, change orders—or additional requests outside of contract terms—can begin to add up and increase costs. Manufacturers should be proactive in managing change orders. They can start by researching market trends in program services and models. If a manufacturer can anticipate their evolving program needs and align internally before providing contractual direction, they can keep unanticipated change orders to a minimum.

  6. Establish Expectations for Program Communication and Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) There’s almost nothing more frustrating than working to put a contract in place only to be disappointed with the vendor once the relationship is established. Manufacturers should be open with their specialty pharmacy partners regarding communication and QBRs and design a plan that works for both parties. It’s important to set expectations ahead of time around topics and metrics for monitoring and discussion. Appropriate contract language should be considered and incorporated into the agreement to support expectations.

  7. Encourage Proactive Solutions from Specialty Pharmacy Account Management Teams A specialty pharmacy relationship is hardly one that remains static. Market dynamics are constantly shifting as new patient needs emerge and new products enter the market. Manufacturers should collaboratively monitor trends in performance and outcomes and leverage the expertise of their specialty pharmacy partners to respond appropriately. Brainstorm exercises and workshops can be engaging for both parties to have an open dialogue and determine next steps.

  8. Separate Personal Relationships from Professional Deliverables As with many of our most critical business relationships, partners become friends. Naturally, it’s best to maintain a business friendship where expectations are discussed and set up front, and each party is thoughtful of the other’s business drivers.


With these eight best practices as a guide, manufacturers are poised to make the most of their specialty pharmacy relationships.


To see the poster that was presented, click here. More information about the NASP Annual Meeting can be found here.


Archbow’s team of specialty pharmacy experts consistently supports manufacturers in designing the best specialty pharmacy strategies for their unique products. If your team is building specialty pharmacy networks and relationships, we can help.



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Archbow Consulting helps pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the USA and Europe reach their commercial goals with strategic and tactical approaches to distribution, pharmacy, and patient access. Archbow was founded by industry veterans to meet a need in the marketplace for consulting options that offer diverse real-world experience, are able to leverage deep connections across the industry, and can also provide actionable strategic guidance. We invite you to learn more about our team, services, and clients’ success, and connect with us via email, LinkedIn, Twitter or subscribing to this blog which you can do below.