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3 Things to Consider When Your Launch Network Underperforms

New drugs and therapies take years to develop. With them come lofty goals and expectations. Often, new drugs are launched as part of a limited distribution network, meaning only a small number of pharmacies have access. One of the most important decisions a manufacturer makes is choosing the specialty pharmacies included in their launch network. The long-term success of the drug is directly impacted by the performance of those pharmacies.

So what happens when your launch underperforms? One missed target can start a chain reaction. Insurance hurdles can derail getting patients started on therapy. Complex billing situations can overwhelm an inexperienced pharmacy. High out-of-pocket costs can deter patients from even starting therapy. Your team might feel overwhelmed and defeated before the program ever leaves the runway. Our experienced Trade team offers three tips every manufacturer should remember when evaluating their launch network and deciding next steps.

1. Define Your Starting Line Up, and the Back Ups.

Have a defined list of qualified specialty pharmacies ready to step up and support your product. If your launch network consists of three specialty pharmacies, make sure lines of communication still flow with pharmacy number four. This allows them to strengthen their offerings for what your launch was missing. Your ‘next in’ pharmacy should be nimble, responsive and able to stand a program up in 90 days or less.

2. Be Clear with Expectations.

While respecting the working relationships with your chosen network, be open and clear with your ‘next in’ pharmacies. Let them know where your launch was lacking so they can be ready with solutions. Was the ball dropped in helping with prior authorizations or appeals? Was the patient not kept in the loop enough, leading to anxiety over missed doses? It’s not about airing out dirty laundry, it’s about setting expectations and setting up your product for success.

3. Overcoming Coverage Obstacles.

Eliminating coverage hurdles is one of the most critical aspects of a successful launch. Every member of your network should aggressively navigate any and all hurdles that come with getting a new drug covered by insurance. This includes having solutions for both medical and pharmacy reimbursement claims. And while coverage criteria are being identified and conquered, a skilled specialty pharmacy should lose no time finding patients financial assistance to get them to therapy. From grants and foundations, to manufacturer sponsored programs – knowing these resources allows the patient to focus on getting better, not the cost.


Bringing a new drug to market unfolds over many years. It isn’t a stretch to say the wellbeing of your company hinges on a successful launch. But if your launch stumbles out of the gates, you can get it back on track.  With a thorough backup plan and ample communication, it is possible to redeem a launch. The actions you take in the face of an underwhelming launch can swing the momentum back towards the kind of impact you envisioned your product making.

To learn more about how Amber Specialty Pharmacy supports a product launch, visit our website and contact our team today.

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