Why can’t I buy comparators from a wholesaler?

Pharmaceutical distribution can be just as complicated as the research and development process. In most cases, a pharmacy or hospital can contract with one of the big three wholesalers in the United States to get the medications they need. In 2019, McKesson, Cardinal, and Amerisource Bergan accounted for 94% of all the medications sold in the US. Manufacturers need the big three and other distributors so they can focus on manufacturing and leave the distribution headaches to others. The market dominance gives the big three an outsized influence in a market worth hundreds of billions of dollars annually.

So why can’t a lab or research company buy direct from the big three? The short answer: intellectual property.

The wholesalers are contractually required by manufacturers to report back the name and volume of sales to each of their customers. Many years ago anyone could open an account, but then manufacturers began to realize which trade classes were detrimental to their business. Laboratories, research companies, and CROs were at the top of the list of flagged customers.

These customers were selling medications that in most cases were being used as comparators throughout the research and development process. Big companies that spent billions in development wanted to protect their IP and limit the ability of competitors to reverse engineer their technology. As a result, pharmaceutical companies created policies restricting the big three from selling to specific customers.

In recent years, the big three stopped selling to anyone that was considered a reseller. This limits the ability for comparator medications to filter down to the companies that need them for their validation, non-human primate, and PK studies.

At GSI our partners have worked with the remaining 6% of distributors to create a network that can help you source the comparator medications you need from the US and around the world. We look forward to collaborating with your team and bringing you high-quality study medications and supplies that others cannot.

Get in touch with our comparator sourcing specialists today to discuss your project needs and timelines.

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