AmerisourceBergen's ThinkLive manufacturer summit highlights an international push

October 9, 2014

Efforts to align drug wholesaling business with manufacturer services

AmerisourceBergen’s ThinkLive meeting (Washington, DC, Oct. 7-8) is an annual event for drawing the Big Three wholesaler’s manufacturer partners together; through its Specialty Group and Consulting Services divisions, it makes a concentrated effort to capture patient-support, logistics and related services to assist manufacturers’ commercial needs. While congratulating themselves for completing both the generic and branded-pharma distribution changeovers for Walgreens (capturing this business from Cardinal Health in 2013)—one of the largest customer switches in recent years—the company gave some hints at what its direction is going to be in coming years. And that, in a word, is international.

Over the past year, the company has made the first of what it expects to be a series of international forays: it has set up a distribution partnership in Brazil; its Xcenda Group (which performs health economics research) will have a European component through the company’s acquisition of Herescon, a Hannover, Germany, firm; and, in a matter of months, it expanded the Australian depot of its recently acquired World Courier group (which specializes in clinical trial logistics) to accommodate commercial deliveries of specialty pharmaceuticals. An expansion of specialty distribution in Canada, where the company has maintained a presence after selling off its non-specialty wholesaling business, was also recently announced.

Finally, and perhaps most significantly, the company has opened a global sourcing office in Bern, Switzerland, that will be the coordination point between ABC and the Walgreens-Alliance Boots partnership for product sourcing and services. Besides managing that key relationship, the office will be the platform to introduce ABC’s services to the European market, says Peyton Howell, ABC president of global sourcing. “It’s been eye-opening to see how, for specialty pharmaceuticals, there is an unmet need for the types of patient services we’re accustomed to providing to manufacturers in the US,” she says.

Shaping healthcare delivery

The ABC event is also a showcase for presenting awards to manufacturers in various categories, such as trade relations, manufacturing excellence or product launches. A new category, the “Shaping Healthcare Delivery” award, is meant to highlight innovative, successful programs that fit ABC’s style of combining drug delivery with ancillary services. The winner was Burmans Pharmacy, a regional, independent specialty pharmacy based in Chester, PA, whose execs say that ABC’s services were instrumental in helping them triple their sales (to $300 million) in the past year, primarily through support services for hepatitis-C patients.