Sonexus Health: a new entrant in the specialty-pharma commercialization space

Company combines distribution, pharmacy and patient-assistance services

A new player in the hot spot of pharma commercialization—specialty products with complex service needs—has come together in Lewisville, TX. Sonexus Health combines an existing patient assistance firm, CDF Services, with a newly built 70,000-sq.ft. operations center and an experienced management team that is focused on a business model to simplify the complexity of services and reimbursement for specialty pharmaceuticals. The key element, says president Mike Mullen, is that the company acts on a customized direct-distribution model that enables manufacturers to own their relationship with healthcare providers, which affords them control over pricing and terms, as well as ownership of real-time data.

Sonexus Health starts out combining three distinct services: a 3PL (third-party logistics) provider to handle the physical distribution of products; a patient assistance program that comprises “hub” services for prior authorization, reimbursement coordination and a call center for getting patients on therapy and keeping them there; and a financial solutions service to remove financial barriers to delivering therapeutics. The company is also starting out with what it calls a “noncommercial specialty pharmacy,” meaning that it will be able to provide scrip fulfillment for client healthcare providers. “We expect that we will be able to provide a much closer relationship to patients and providers for manufacturers,” says Mullen. “In a coming era of specialty product introductions and personalized medicine, this will become increasingly important.” Mullen also sees advantages in unifying data—on outcomes, risk management programs, reimbursement practices and the like—for manufacturers.

Sonexus’ business model is not unique; other distributors have latched onto the model of combining delivery with bundled patient services, and the biggest specialty distributors, including each of the Big Three wholesalers, as well as PBMs like Express Scripts and CVS Caremark, have targeted at least parts of the business. There is an increasingly competitive environment between specialty pharmacies (who primarily fill scrips), dedicated hub services, and specialty distribution companies—although Sonexus sees itself primarily as working with and not against specialty pharmacies. Sonexus expects to provide an edge with, among other services, “first-start” programs (which can deliver prescriptions to newly diagnosed patients even while the reimbursement issues are being worked out) and its eBidRx program, which helps manage contract negotiations with manufacturers.