As drug manufacturers continue to launch specialty pharmaceuticals into the physician and clinic space, there is an increasing need for Buy-and-Bill (B&B) consulting experience – whether launching new drugs or optimizing existing programs. Archbow is pleased to welcome Rob Besse to the team as we further expand the support we’re able to offer our clients in B&B and Specialty Distribution.
Prior to joining Archbow, Rob served as Vice President, Operations at Besse Medical, part of the AmerisourceBergen Corporation. He was responsible for overall divisional operations, procurement, contracting, compliance, and business development. Today, Rob draws upon 20 years of unmatchable experience to benefit the development of supply chain strategies for Archbow clients.
In the Q&A below, Rob shares his thoughts on making the leap from his family’s business to consulting, what manufacturers need to know before commercialization planning, and industry trends worth watching. To learn more about Rob’s background and personality, read his bio here. Welcome, Rob!
Archbow Consulting: What made you want to leave Besse Medical/ AmerisourceBergen and join Archbow?
Rob Besse: I worked for Besse Medical in one form or another since I was 14 years old. There is never a good time to leave the “family business,” so it was a tough decision. My actual family and my work family treated me so well over the years. But, when it’s time for a change, it’s time for a change, and I really wanted to try something new. Because I had been providing consulting services for years in my role at Besse Medical, I knew it was something I enjoyed and something I could do well.
I’ve known Douglas Bock and DeWayne Manning for several years and always enjoyed working with them. The culture, professionalism, and diversity of the Archbow team were very attractive to me, and I knew I would fit right in. I am very excited to be part of a dynamic, growing organization.
AC: Tell us more about your role at Besse Medical/AmerisourceBergen
RB: My role for over 20 years was serving as Vice President of Operations. I was responsible for procurement and inventory management for over 8000 SKU’s, managed our contracts and chargebacks team, and led our compliance team that managed licenses and new account set-ups for over 60,000 shipping locations. I was the key contact for our manufacturer partners, and they knew to call me when they had an issue. I was responsible for business development and helped launch almost 100 new drug programs into the B&B space.
Our company earned a reputation as being easy to work with, flexible, and always trying to work innovatively with our manufacturer partners when it came to REMS programs, pricing and rebate structures, class of trade restrictions, and reliable data reporting. I was fortunate to work with our sister companies within AmerisourceBergen, like ICS, Lash Group, and Xcenda, and numerous consulting firms, as they assisted manufacturers with their commercialization services. My real-world experience can help Archbow’s manufacturer partners understand the fine detail required to distribute specialty pharmaceuticals at launch, or at any stage of a drug’s lifecycle.
AC: What do manufacturers need to know about Specialty Distribution before developing a commercialization strategy?
RB: First, it’s important to understand that there is a lot more to think about than the size and composition of a distribution network. I have found that some market access and commercialization teams are not very familiar with the services a Specialty Distributor (SD) provides or everything that is included when shipping a specialty pharmaceutical product. Specialty drugs typically have special considerations pertaining to shipping and handling, pricing, extended invoice terms, GPO strategies, class of trade restrictions, etc. Physicians and clinics rarely have prime vendor relationships with their distributors, so pricing, terms, and even access can be unique to the drug itself. SDs become partners with their physician and clinic customers more acutely in the B&B world since they are not only distributors of the drug, but also a de facto bank that provides limited financial services to offices as they seek reimbursement for the products they purchase.
AC: Which specialty distribution trends will you be watching?
RB: There are a few key areas that are top of mind for me:
Specialty Pharmaceutical Reimbursement: Clinician-administered drugs are most economical and accessible in the community space, but if payers continue to squeeze reimbursement rates, these treatments will move to more expensive, and potentially less accessible, acute care sites.
Medicare for All: As we approach the coming elections, there are plenty of unknowns on how our country will lower healthcare costs. Will we stay the course, amend the ACA, or go to healthcare that is paid for exclusively or primarily by the government? Any change will have effects on how drugs are commercialized in the US, and we all need to be watching these changes carefully on behalf of our clients.
Biosimilars: I don’t think biosimilars have taken off the way some manufacturers (and most payers) would have liked, but it seems clear that they are the wave of the future. Biosimilar manufacturers will need to make sure they educate their downstream customers about the nature of these products and to help ensure patients can save money.
AC: Outside of your B&B and SD expertise, what do you bring to the Archbow team?
RB: I had the benefit of being part of a large business that was run like a “family business.” Our culture was built around working with Empathy, Integrity, Ingenuity, and a sense of Urgency. We were always looking for new, creative ways to help our customers succeed in their businesses rather than just shipping them pharmaceuticals. We viewed ourselves as partners rather than just suppliers. At Archbow, we have a similar culture and want to be long term partners to our clients, too.
Additionally, during my time at Besse Medical, I was able to develop subject matter expertise in a number of disease states, including retinal surgery, ophthalmology, rheumatology, gastroenterology, urology, addiction medicine, and pediatrics/primary care. Knowing the nuances of these disease states – everything from prescriber preferences to market depth to payer trends – saves manufacturer clients time and resources.
AC: Now, on to a personal question. What do you in your spare time?
RB: My wife and I are empty-nesters, so we are enjoying our hobbies like traveling, cooking, eating (too much), watching our favorite shows, and working around our new house. We are both Buckeyes, along with two of our three kids, so we are rabid Ohio State football fans. You can find us, our home, cars, yard, etc., decked out in Scarlet and Gray on football Saturdays.
Please join us in welcoming Rob to the Archbow team. Send Rob a note here.