DDN sets up a dedicated service, Urgent Access, for continental US drug deliveries

Dohmen, DDN parent, also adds to its regulatory services with acquisition of BioSoteria

Every now and then, one hears about a heroic effort to get a life-saving drug to a hospital or patient, in the middle of a storm during a holiday: kudos all around. But if DDN has its way, these heroic measures will be reduced to another day at the office. The company has set up a service, branded as Urgent Access, that boasts delivery of a drug, within eight hours, anywhere in the continental US, 24/7/365.

“We looked at a variety of models in setting this up, including courier services and even chartered aircraft,” says Mark Wiesman, president of the Menomonee Falls, WI company. “But we’ve found the most effective model to be a configurable network of forward supply depots, where stocks of products can be kept.” DDN is working with an unnamed local storage and delivery supplier to build out this network; the locations of dedicated pharma storage facilities will be dictated by the types, volumes and destinations of the drugs of pharma clients who make use of the service. Urgent Access has been up and running for several months already; Wiesman says that the network has successfully made 75 deliveries in 21 states, all under 8 hr and some within 1 hr. “The local expertise is valuable,” he says. “People talk about last-mile delivery difficulties, but with some large critical care facilities with multiple delivery points, you can have a ‘last 300 yards’ problem.”

Such hospitals, as well as specialty clinics, are an obvious end point for this tailored delivery. The drugs that would be good candidates are those that require specialized logistics (such as cold chain products); have infrequent or irregular supply; and have serious health implications when unavailable. Costs to the pharma supplier depend on the volume of product, the product’s requirements (such as short shelf life, which would necessitate more-frequent restocking) and geographic constraints. Obviously this will cost more than routine milk run deliveries, but Wiesman says that the tailored network can offer substantial savings over emergency shipments.

Meanwhile, Dohmen (Milwaukee), DDN’s parent, has continued to extend its own “network” of pharma service companies. The latest acquisition (following three last year) is BioSoteria (Emeryville, CA), a consulting and training company in risk management, drug safety and pharmacovigilance. Cynthia LaConte, Dohmen president, cites the trend toward smaller patient populations for newer drugs, necessitating both smaller clinical trials and more post-marketing surveillance. The company would seem to be a good fit with a previous acquisition, Centric Health Resources, an ultra-orphan drug distributor, as well as the internally developed DDN Medical Affairs group.