Handling the Biologics Hot Potato

February 2011 : Biologics - Vol. 8 No. 2 - Page #3

There is no single, ideal approach to budgeting for and managing biologic products. This fact, however, should not preclude you as a pharmacy director from striving for a better solution. As is commonly the case when improvements are realized, they are the result of the experience of learning from your past mistakes, or better yet, the mistakes of others. Because biologic products are inherently precious in that they are, fragile, expensive, and prone to availability disruptions, extra care is required to maintain the best possible management of these products.

A stock element of any efficient process is communication. The sometimes astronomical cost of biologics coupled with common challenges to purchasing, storing, and administering them can lead to a feeling of detachment. Many practitioners would prefer to look the other way and avoid the challenge of managing the financial risks so attendant to biologics. As with most problems, though, they are best met head on. Make sure all parties involved in using biologics—including nursing, physicians, buyers, and administrators—are aware of the costs, risks, and stewardship obligations surrounding their use. No one wants to be surprised by the cost of a wasted dose of IVIG, or to learn too late that a far less expensive solution was readily available when a biologic was used.

One last thing to keep in mind is the impact of the media and the general public’s influence over the supply and demand for certain biologic products, such as the influenza vaccine. Often this product is greatly affected by a kind of mob mentality. One year, if cases of the flu are statistically higher, even if there is no reason to panic, people tend to react as though obtaining vaccine is vitally important. There is nothing like a rumor of product shortage to increase demand. At the same time, an increasing challenge for hospitals is convincing their own staff to be vaccinated. Alarmingly, this is still a challenge and is one that can be affected by a climate of fear.

When it comes to biologics, you need to be prepared to handle these kinds of situations and let the relevant parties know in advance that certain situations may require extraordinary measures in the form of drug acquisition and use. Don’t be afraid to talk about it! By actively managing your inventory and usage and staying abreast of developments in the biologics arena, you can avoid being surprised by exorbitant budget shifts, which are never fun to explain to the CFO.


Jerry Siegel, PharmD, FASHP
Guest Editor


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