Working with government entities to advance access, affordability, and supply chain stability
That was the takeaway from a panel discussion featuring AmerisourceBergen experts as part of the ThinkLive Trade manufacturer summit in October 2021. In the session, speakers drew from their experiences working with government entities as they discussed how public-private partnerships benefit manufacturers and patients through supply chain stability, medication access, and affordability.
ThinkLive Trade 2021
Public/private partnerships for healthier futures: An update on our work with government entities
Moderator: Beth McMahon, Senior Vice President, Global Emerging Therapies and Channel Strategy at AmerisourceBergen
Panelists: Marian Benz, Senior Vice President of Government Sales and Business Development at AmerisourceBergen; Matt Sample, Vice President of Manufacturer Operations at AmerisourceBergen; David Senior, Senior Vice President of Market Economics at AmerisourceBergen
Strengthening and innovating the supply chain
The session opened with a conversation around the pandemic as a catalyst for public-private partnerships in pursuit of improvements across the supply chain. Matt Sample shared the genesis of AmerisourceBergen's collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which started with the company's role as distributor for a manufacturer's COVID-19 therapy.
Initially, AmerisourceBergen was asked to ship to states directly, who would then distribute the therapy to sites of care. Eventually, collaborators evolved their partnership as they found more efficient pathways across the supply chain. This, in turn, benefitted manufacturers with a more innovative, flexible, and resilient commercialization journey.
“[Ultimately,] we built a tool that lets the states go in and dictate where the product would go," Sample said. “As we went along, we got really close with Health and Human Services … Now, not only are we working with HHS, but I'm actually in Washington, D.C with the COVID-19 Countermeasure Task Force to identify how we move forward in a more efficient manner over the coming months."
As a distributor, AmerisourceBergen is in a unique position relative to these partnerships, Benz added. Being at that crossroads helps the company gain a more nuanced perspective across all stakeholders.
“We're touching both ends of the pharmaceutical supply chain," she said. “We're seeing the manufacturer all the way over to the end-user, which is often the health system or the provider."
Expanding medication access
The movement toward more efficient and effective collaborations has also spanned across different government partnerships, both locally and federally, in advance of medication access, Benz noted.
“In addition to what we're doing at HHS, we are working with the Department of Defense (DoD) as their global prime vendor, delivering pharmaceuticals to every military treatment facility," she said. “At the state level, we've done quite a bit through our COVID-19 therapy work with the state departments of health, [and we have also developed] a redistribution program with the Pfizer vaccine. We're also working with the states on their preparedness plans so that they can ensure critical access for medication through their health systems throughout the state in the event of another public health emergency."
It's important to note that not all of this work has focused on COVID-19. As Benz reminded the audience, other public health crises deserve attention, too.
“We have a number of Afghanistan refugees who are being hosted at multiple military treatment facilities across the United States," she said. “There are patients from babies all the way to elderly who we need to help care for. We've worked hand in hand with the DoD as well as manufacturers to ensure that those patients had access to key vaccines, such as MMR and polio."
Creating more affordability for all
As with supply chain resilience and medication access, drug pricing also demands public-private collaboration. When asked by McMahon how AmerisourceBergen has leveraged government and manufacturer partnerships in service of affordability, Senior spoke of the company's longstanding commitment as a solutions provider at the intersection of patients, policymakers, and drug companies.
“We've been focused on how to address patient out-of-pocket costs without trying to unwind an entire supply chain's economics, which can lead to other unintended consequences," he said. “[In working with policymakers], we've positioned benefit design with capped out-of-pocket costs as critical to affordability. The work done to demonstrate patient costs, access, and benefit design leading to poor patient outcomes and higher overall healthcare costs is undeniable. We've worked to play a significant role in advancing policies that will work."
The enduring power of partnership
Throughout the session, panelists emphasized the power of ongoing partnership—and that a healthier future is possible when everyone has a seat at the table. Pandemic or not, these lasting public-private relationships can pave the way for big things ahead, from a reliable supply to more access and affordability.
“These public-private partnerships are critical to the success of our future," Benz said. “It will take all of us to make this work. And one thing we've learned is that although the government traditionally works very slowly, they're very interested in innovation. We're seeing them move at a pace we've never seen them move before. We're really excited about being on the leading edge in partnership with the government for change in our healthcare system."
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