Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy Opens New Headquarters With Ambitious Growth Plans

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - January/February 2011

Leading specialty pharmacy expects to hire 1000, nearly tripling in size over the next five years

In an action that has dramatic implications both for the specialty pharmacy business and the state of Michigan, Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy has moved into a new headquarters in its Flint, MI, hometown. The building is in the former General Motors Great Lakes Technology Centre complex; Diplomat is acquiring 340,000 sq.ft of the facility, which is partially publicly owned, and traces its roots back to the heyday of General Motors in the Flint area.

The Great Lakes Technology Centre was one of General Motor’s facilities until recently, and has now been divided into parcels for economic development. Diplomat will perform prescription fulfillment as well as compounding at the facility.

Diplomat has moved 400 employees from another location to the site, and says that it plans to hire 1,000 new employees over the next five years. (It also expects to have 4,000 more hires by 2028—some ambitious longterm planning there!) The privately held company has been on a growth tear, having grown 917% in sales over the 2006-2009 period and being listed on the Inc. 500 list. Revenue for 2010 was projected at $600 million.

Diplomat is getting a major boost from economic development offices in the region, including the Michigan Economic Growth Authority, which has granted an 18-year tax credit and federally funded employee training credits, and the city of Flint. Company statements at the time of the awards indicate that it was considering moving to Texas or Ohio.

“Specialty pharmacy is a labor-intensive field. It’s a nearly $100 billion industry and a true growth area,” said Phil Hagerman, president of Diplomat, at the time of the incentive award. “Three of the top 10 drugs we provide today didn’t exist five years ago. There are hundreds of drugs in the specialty pharmacy pipeline and it is a likely scenario that half of the top 10 drugs we will provide in five years are not on the market today.”

Diplomat emphasizes the high-touch nature of specialty pharmacy, with disease-specific management programs and care and benefits coordination. It claims 90% adherence rates as compared to industry averages of 50-70%. It has contracts with managed care organizations, PBMs and manufacturers themselves.

Besides basic prescription fulfillment (and some retail pharmacy business), the company performs compounding of patient-specific meds; it also has a substantial veterinary business. Disease programs include oncology (50% of its business is in oncology), HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s, hemophilia, growth hormone and psoriasis. Other specialty areas include transplant therapy, fertility and dialysis. It serves a national market through offices in Grand Rapids, MI, Cleveland, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles. PC

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