Dohmen Life Science sharpens its focus on specialty pharma/device services


Self-styled '156-year-old startup' aims to attract small-to-medium companies with outsourced commercialization services

Dohmen Life Science Services (DLSS; Milwaukee) took the wraps off a newly structured organization which, says CEO Cynthia LaConte, “is a rethinking of our business, based on a future of entrepreneurially driven pharma companies with high-value, small-market products.” At a company-sponsored “Entrepreneurial Summit” held this week in Milwaukee, LaConte outlined the recent history of the firm, going back to when it shed its 100+-year-old wholesaling business, then acquired, in rapid succession in the past several years, businesses that are involved in orphan-drug patient support; medical device distribution; clinical research support, post-marketing support and several other specialties. Along the way, it built out its DDN third-party logistics (3PL) service, and divested ReStat, a pharmacy benefit management firm. All these business units are now being branded under the Dohmen name, organized in three segments: biopharma; rare disease; and med tech.

The privately held company currently has over 600 healthcare-products clients; 750 employees; and grossed over $200 million in sales in the past year.

According to LaConte, the company’s sweet spot is specialty pharmaceuticals and medical devices for small patient populations that need substantial patient support. “Our position is that companies developing products for these markets shouldn’t build their own complex commercialization structure; that’s a redundancy that adds cost to healthcare delivery, and diffuses the effort that these entrepreneurial companies need to make.” Drug development, especially for rare diseases, crosses between clinical research and commercialization routinely; thus the addition of the clinical support. Many of the commercialization efforts amount to the evolving hub services sector, although the company avoids that label. A key part of the company’s strategy is to be, as LaConte puts it, “conflict free,” meaning that it doesn’t operate as both a buyer and seller of healthcare products, but strictly as an agent of the manufacturers.

Specialty drug distribution and hub services are becoming a hotly competitive arena in pharma, in line with the growing emphasis on specialty pharmaceuticals. Each of the Big Three wholesaler-distributors (as well as other national drug wholesalers) has a specialty business unit; and in the specialty-pharmacy segment, pharmacies themselves are building out patient-support services. For all of them, the question will be how far payers and providers will go in allowing manufacturers to play a role in direct-to-patient services.

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