• Team Archbow

How Healthy is Your Pharmaceutical Distribution Network?

How Healthy is Your Pharmaceutical Distribution Network?

Manufacturers spend valuable time designing, building, and launching distribution networks in support of their products. If things go well at launch, and products are efficiently making their way to the various dispensing and distribution entities, it can be easy to trust that all is well.

Until it isn’t. And that’s when many manufacturers are caught by surprise and begin scrambling to patch what they didn’t even know was a less than perfect supply chain design.

Why does this happen?

Knowing the health of your distribution network requires more than a strong launch strategy and subsequent quarterly reviews of general program insights. It requires a deep dive to genuinely understand if stakeholders, vendors, and partners are executing against properly established business rules, effectively training the right staff, proactively monitoring the correct quality outputs, and looking for opportunities to create efficiencies.

Manufacturers often do not engage proactively in these telling exercises and thus don't know they have a problem until it is too late – that is, until there is a service disruption or persistent negative customer feedback. Once the issues arise, it often requires significant resources, time, and money to fix the problems and repair any resultant negative perceptions in the marketplace.

Regular or annual assessments conducted by industry experts can help you determine exactly where your program stands, what underlying gaps/issues exist, and what opportunities you have for potential improvements and strategic growth. A small investment in this area can pay dividends later and can provide you with the plan you need to systematically manage and improve your network instead of managing crises reactively.

As we explore in our recent whitepaper, How Healthy Are Your Market Access Programs? A Guide to Performing Check-Ups on Your Pharmaceutical Distribution and Patient Access Programs, manufacturers can begin assessing the health of their distribution networks in a variety of ways:

Specialty Pharmacy

  • Understand the performance of current dispensing entities

  • Evaluate network design

  • Consider the pros and cons of working with the payer-owned SPs vs working with Independent SPs

  • Embrace novel dispensing approaches and IDN / Health System Specialty Pharmacies

Wholesale and Specialty Distribution

  • Take a fresh look at distribution fees

  • Evaluate partner mix

  • Confirm track-and-trace capabilities

  • Expand sales and marketing support

  • Maximize data reporting

  • Pressure test existing programs

Third-Party Logistics (3PL)

  • Evaluate your distribution launch model

  • Review order-to-cash effectiveness

  • Refresh your transportation management approach

  • Consider adding additional services

  • Don't overlook quality

  • Consider dedicated account management

For more detail on how and why to perform health check-ups in these key areas, download the whitepaper here.

And to see how one manufacturer saved $2.7M with just one of these assessments, read this case study.

If you're unsure of the health of your overall program, or even of a few individual components of your program, you're not alone. Even if you're already seeing service disruptions, identifying excessive costs, having service challenges, and receiving negative feedback from stakeholders, it's not too late to make positive changes that will systematically improve your programs.

Some organizations have the staff and experience to complete these check-ups internally. Others need assistance – in the form of outside perspective, strategic design, or tactical implementation. That's where Archbow can help. Monitoring and improving program health are things we do day in and day out, and we're passionate about ensuring that our clients' programs run as efficiently and as effectively as possible. Contact us today to get started.


Archbow Consulting helps pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the USA and Europe design, build, and optimize product distribution and patient access strategies. 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.