Fran Gregory, PharmD, vice president of emerging therapies at Cardinal Health, discusses how specialty pharmacists manage inventory, storage, and handling of biosimilars.
With the volume of new biosimilars coming to the market, there will be many challenges to specialty pharmacies will need to consider when handling these drugs that are unique from generic drugs, says Fran Gregory, PharmD, vice president of emerging therapies at Cardinal Health.
What strategies can specialty pharmacies implement to effectively manage the handling of biosimilars, which may have unique requirements compared with traditional generic medications?
Yes, the inventory management is something I have heard a lot of concern about with biosimilars from specialty pharmacies in particular, and retail pharmacies when we think about the insulins coming to market and the vast number of biosimilars that will come to market for 1 reference product. If in your pharmacy you have 20 boxes of Humira on your shelf, you're now going to have 20 × 10 different rows of Humira biosimilars on your shelf; that gets overwhelming to think about from a sheer capacity and volume and storage requirements. How many more refrigerators am I going to need to buy very tactical things that manufacturers might not be thinking about, or the FDA might not have been thinking about when we created these approval pathways and designations? Specialty pharmacies are hopefully preparing and planning for the launch of these multiple biosimilars.
Because it is a different world that we're coming into and the way that formularies will choose their biosimilar of choice, they will be challenged to maintain significantly larger volume of inventory more likely than they may have previously. I think the other piece of that is having a really good in-time inventory supplier. So, making sure that you have a supplier that can ship your medications overnight when you need them so your patients aren't waiting; so that you don't have any out-of-stock medications, and just making sure that you really manage your inventory, maybe much more closely than you would maybe think you would have to bet the reference product.