Looking forward: Q&A with Bob Mauch of AmerisourceBergen
Bob Mauch, EVP and president of AmerisourceBergen Drug
Earlier this year AmerisourceBergen named Bob Mauch EVP and president of AmerisourceBergen Drug, tapping an executive who has been in the pharmacy business his whole life. He’s passionate about what he does, and he sees significant opportunity on the horizon for both ABC and its partners. Drug Store News sat down with Mauch to discuss how ABC and its partners will realize that promising future.
Drug Store News: Bob, let’s start off talking a little bit about your background.
Bob Mauch: I’ve grown up in pharmacy my entire life. My family was in the pharmacy business — my dad owned both independent community and long-term care pharmacies. So I grew up in that business, anywhere from working as a technician to a delivery driver to a pharmacist. Our customer’s perspective is part of who I am. I really think about [opportunities] from a pharmacist perspective, and most importantly, I think [about] how do we make sure we improve patient care. Based on that, when I finished pharmacy school, I went to graduate school and got a PhD in pharmacy administration, which focused on outcomes research and health economics. My interest there was really in how we are going to be able to understand the value of pharmaceuticals when they become very expensive, very specialized. That was in 1994. We were just starting to have a lot of discussions about pharmaceutical care and outcomes. When I got out of grad school, I started a company called Xcenda, an outcomes research and consulting firm primarily focused on helping pharmaceutical companies understand and communicate the value or the cost-effectiveness of their medication, and then also how patients and physicians will be reimbursed for those medications. I did that for nearly 20 years and then had the opportunity to be acquired by AmerisourceBergen in 2007. Then I moved from the consulting organization within ABC to the full-line distribution business in 2010. I’ve been trying to apply all of that history, all of that knowledge — a passion for efficiency, a passion for pharmaceutical care and a passion for improving patient outcomes — into the distribution business. I try to focus on that every single day.
DSN: Can you talk about what your role at ABC is today and how you think your background informs that role?
Mauch: What an exciting time it is at AmerisourceBergen. My current role is the president of AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, which is our full-line distribution business. We are the part of [the] company that delivers to nearly 30,000 pharmaceutical locations every single day versus our specialty group, which is more physician-office focused. The exciting part for AmerisourceBergen is that while I have been going through my career with a focus on reimbursement, outcomes and specialty, so has AmerisourceBergen. It’s not a coincidence that they acquired my company when they did. When you think about our history over the years and the growth that we’ve had in purchasing the Lash Group, which is focused on patient reimbursement, and we already talked about Xcenda, which is focused on outcomes and pharmacoeconomics, Besse [Medical] and Oncology Supply, which are focused really on the specialty growth market, and US Bioservices, which is specialty pharmacy focused, what that leads us to is … an infrastructure that is ready to help our customers succeed in today’s environment and going forward.
We’re not so much trying to retool ourselves for the future. This actually is our time. … We believe that, as you know, we win as our customers grow. As our customers succeed, they can care for more patients [and] they will have access to more products [and services]. They’ll grow and we’ll benefit them. We are aligning our strategy to help our customers win in the marketplace. Rather than sitting in a corporate office and deciding what the AmerisourceBergen strategy should be necessarily, we’re focused on how we’re going to align our resources to help our customers win. It’s exciting, because when you think about how our capabilities line up with our customer’s needs— and particularly community pharmacy customer’s needs— when you think about the things they’re faced with today in terms of reimbursement pressure, narrow networks, access to specialty products, and outcomes-based reimbursement or outcomes-based care, those are the things that we do. That’s the expertise that we have. It’s in our DNA, frankly. We believe we are uniquely positioned to help our customers win. So the strategy, the strategy at ABCD and ABC broadly is to align around that. … We’re spending a lot of time understanding [our customer’s] needs. We’re also matching that with market expertise and insights.
DSN: What do you see as some of ABC’s greatest strengths, opportunities and challenges?
Mauch: Our strengths are really in best-in-class distribution capabilities, and from that providing a customer experience that really impacts our customer’s business. They don’t have to worry about the products being there, they just have to worry about caring for their patient. We talked about the specialty expertise that we have, and that’s both distribution and sourcing. Probably the third big bucket there really is the reimbursement and outcomes expertise that we have within AmerisourceBergen. Those are our core strengths and they match up very well with the marketplace. The challenges for AmerisourceBergen are the same challenges that are industry wide. We’re seeing our customers navigating a very challenging healthcare environment. We are going through a period of time from a healthcare and from a health policy standpoint that is probably unprecedented in terms of care models changing and being tested with a lot of cost control and cost pressure in the system. From that, we’re seeing our customers in search of new ways to be relevant, new ways to care for their patients. … The market dynamics are significant right now. … If you take our strengths and the challenges that are in the marketplace, [that] turns right into our opportunity — we can be an excellent strategic partner for independent community pharmacy, regional chains and others. We have the expertise, we have the knowledge and we have the desire to work with them and help them grow their business.
DSN: How would you define your vision for how AmerisourceBergen will grow and evolve its business looking forward?
Mauch: It’s all about the customer. Our vision for how we will grow is aligning the vast expertise resources that we have within AmerisourceBergen, aligning those with the customer’s needs, and helping them grow so that we grow. It’s a bit simple, but we think it’s very powerful because we have what they need. It’s not just the medication. We’re going to be investing. We’re going to be innovative. We’re going to be, frankly, best-in-class in making sure that we have that product in the right place at the right time. And we’re also going to have these other opportunities for them to work with us so they can grow their businesses better, faster. And when they win, we win.
DSN: You talked about reimbursement strategies; you talked about the specialty business; you talked about outcomes-based medicine. What message do you have for the independent operator looking at the healthcare landscape in trying to determine not only how to survive but how to succeed?
Mauch: I grew up in pharmacy. I’ve been in on a lot of conversations within a pharmacy thinking about how to grow and how to survive and thrive and, most importantly, how to care for patients. That’s a different conversation in 2015 than it was 10 years ago. So my advice to independent pharmacy operators in particular is to make sure that they’re not reaching backward for solutions, but that they’re reaching forward. They’re really understanding what will drive growth in the market, … what the real opportunities and challenges [are] that they have, and then have the right investments and the right partners to win. The most proactive community pharmacists will be the ones who win, and those that are hoping for something good to happen I feel are at a bit more [at] risk. So my advice is to be proactive, be innovative, grasp the future, make the right investment, and partner with the right pharmaceutical company to get there.
Half of in-store sales digitally influenced
While online sales of allergy products may still be relatively low, thousands of consumers are making these purchases online — and many millions more are using the Web to learn about products and decide which brands to purchase.
That’s why it’s critical for brands to optimize four key areas — online search, images, content and availability, according to a new report from Clavis Insight. Search is the new shelf, the company noted, and the rules for winning online versus winning in store are vastly different.
Deloitte estimates that 50% of in-store sales are now digitally influenced, meaning that many allergy sufferers are turning to the Internet to research allergy products, brands and forms — even when making their purchases in physical stores, according to the Clavis Insight report.
However, simply having an online presence is not enough. Fewer than 30% of Amazon shoppers click beyond the first page of search results, according to Millward Brown Digital. So, if a brand is not returning on the first one or two pages of key search term results, it isn’t “on shelf” for those consumers. “Optimizing your products to rank in the top 20 against key category search terms, and then consistently monitoring search performance, is imperative for online success,” said Clavis Insight researchers.
So, who is winning? New entrants and private-label brands are taking the lead in terms of online presence. Flonase and Nasacort, nasal sprays previously available only by prescription, have worked their way to the top of the Allergy Clavis Insight Index ranking with consistent availability and top search results across retailers. Meanwhile, private label is giving brands a run for their money as retailer brands tend to perform better in search terms on retailer sites.
The analysis was conducted based on data collected from six U.S. online stores — Amazon.com, CVS.com, drugstore.com, Target.com, Walgreens.com and Walmart.com. The analysis includes 56 brands and 784 SKUs across the category.
Cannabis pharmacy premieres in U.K.
LONDON — Carun Pharmacy, the United Kingdom’s first cannabis pharmacy, officially opened its doors in May in Twickenham, London, offering consumers a range of health and beauty products that harness the healing powers of hemp.
Carun product offerings include Virgin Hemp Oil, which, according to the company, has a large range of health benefits and is the ideal replacement for traditional cooking oils; Hemp bio syrup, which is suitable for adults and children with respiratory problems, cough and cold; and Hemp Seed, which promotes a healthy metabolism when taken as part of a healthy balanced diet.
“I feel incredibly excited to be opening the first cannabis pharmacy in the United Kingdom. Carun products are made from a specially cultivated species of cannabis sativa called Carmagnola. The compounds called Cannabinoids, which act on Cannabinoid receptors on our cells surface, are very similar to those which [the] human body naturally produce in our Endocanabinoid system,” explained Michal Takac, Carun’s U.K. managing director. “These support our immune system, restore the balance and health of cells, as well as possess anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antibiotic properties. But no … they will not and cannot make you high.” Unlike marijuana, which has a THC level of 20% to 30% (the psychoactive chemical that creates a “high”), Carun products only contain around 0.3%. With anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and hypoallergenic properties, the Carun line soothes and heals such skin conditions as rashes, allergies, psoriasis, eczema, wrinkles, stretch marks, bedsores, scars, burns, sunburn, and dry, cracked or sensitive skin, the company stated.