On the logistical front, most manufacturers don't have the resources to move their products through the healthcare system, and they may lack the staff they would need to provide patient services on their own. Fortunately, Fillman said, there are ways around both problems.
“Most companies quickly realize it makes sense to have a third party do this work, and that's where partners like Cardinal Health come into play," she said. "Our Specialty Solutions business can help manufacturers support the patient journey with services like patient transportation and housing, while our Nuclear & Precision Health Solutions business can deal with everything related to product shipping and handling."
Summers added that the Nuclear & Precision Health Solutions business has deep logistics experience and expertise delivering time-sensitive products with its history in nuclear medicine, making it uniquely positioned to support cell and gene therapies with distribution.
Similarly, on the reimbursement side, a partner like Cardinal Health can act as a financial intermediary to provide support with order-to-cash management and possibly offer alternatives to the buy-and-bill model. “If a manufacturer is hoping to work with healthcare providers in sites other than a large hospital, like a community health practice, the cash flow requirements of the process could create a barrier to access in those settings," Fillman said.
Cardinal Health helps manufacturers manage that obstacle by "white bagging" through its recently-announced collaboration with PANTHERx Specialty Pharmacy. That arrangement, she explained, allows a manufacturer to send their cell or gene therapy product to the physician via a specialty pharmacy. “The specialty pharmacy then submits for reimbursement. This collaboration enables us to provide end-to-end solutions for manufacturers of cell and gene therapies,” she added.
“We feel that an equally innovative channel strategy is required to optimize access and improve patient care which rivals the groundbreaking science of the cell and gene therapies themselves,” said Dr. Gordon J. Vanscoy, Chairman and CEO of PANTHERx. “Through our collaboration with Cardinal Health, we are extremely excited and confident that our model will play a critical role in the patient journey while at the same time offering valuable solutions to other stakeholders including prescribers, payers, and manufacturers,” he added.
Looking ahead, Fillman said, it's clear that the world of cell and gene therapies is expanding rapidly. It's doing so, she noted, thanks to “amazing science" focused on “curing things that were thought to have no cure," but sustained growth will only be possible if the innovators partner with companies with logistical and financial expertise. “These specialized solutions require specialized processes," she said. “That combination is the key to success."