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December 12, 2016
2016 Fastest Growing Companies in Maine

Large company winner: Specialty drugs propel Apothecary By Design's triple-digit sales growth

Photo / Tim Greenway
Photo / Tim Greenway
Apothecary By Design CEO Mark McAuliffe, left, COO Denali Cahoon, President Tom Madden and CFO Catherine Cloudman at the company's Preble Street headquarters in Portland.

Apothecary By Design

141 Preble St., Portland (headquarters and pharmacy) with regional pharmacies in the Boston and Chicago metro areas

Founded: 2008

Top leaders: Mark McAuliffe, CEO; Tom Madden, president; Denali Cahoon, COO; Catherine Cloudman, CFO

Sales growth 2013–15: 398%

Employees: 142 total; 79 in Portland

Contact: 877-814-8447 / www.abdrx.com

Five questions

How would you describe your company's core mission? Through innovative pharmacy practice, Apothecary By Design is working to improve the quality and affordability of health care for the people we serve.

What were the key factors in your company's growth? First, our people. Second, an entrepreneurial service ethic. And third, an unwavering pursuit of quality. With the support and confidence of BelHealth Investment Partners, ABD has worked to make the most of these differences, for the benefit of our business and most importantly, our patients.

How have you adjusted to the rapid growth? ABD has made significant investments in both its staff and in the infrastructure that supports them. With the University of New England, we've just launched a residency training program in specialty pharmacy. We've been building out our IT capabilities.

Do you have plans to hire additional employees? Yes. We're actively seeking new team members now, and expect hiring to continue.

What can we expect for 2017? We look forward to continuing our growth strategy through the addition of other best-of-breed pharmacies in regional markets throughout the country. We'll continue to implement our new IT system and to harness its capabilities in new ways. We'll seek renewal — and, potentially, expansion — of our national accreditations, which are a testament to the quality of our care.

Specialty pharmaceuticals have helped propel Maine's fastest-growing large company. Apothecary By Design, which had sales growth of 396% over a two-year span, sells medications used to treat HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, autoimmune disorders and a range of illnesses and diseases that often have a lengthy — and costly — period of treatment. ABD also has a significant presence in the arena of fertility drugs.

The growth has come at a time when the pharmaceutical industry has gotten away from many of its stalwart drugs because they've achieved generic status, making it possible for other companies to sell them more cheaply. To compensate for what's being called the "generic cliff," pharmaceuticals are plunging into specialized pharmaceuticals. For instance, the treatment for Hepatitis C can cost $30,000. It's not unusual for a patient to be on more than one specialized medicine at a time. For instance, one third of the Hep C population is also being treated for HIV.

"There's been 15% to 20% growth in specialty drugs, industrywide, driven by new drugs and medicines," says Mark McAuliffe, a founder, managing partner and CEO.

Apothecary By Design had sales last year of $163 million, though it should be noted that the sales period measured by the Mainebiz Fastest Growing Awards was 2013-15.

The company, which is based at 141 Preble St. in Portland, has about 142 employees at three sites, including 79 in Portland. It was founded in 2008. This year, it expects sales of $250 million, up from $163 million a year ago. In August 2015, ABD received private equity funding from New York-based BelHealth Investment Partners that helped it better compete with the larger pharmacy benefit managers, which both set rates and offer their own discount mail-order operations.

In the past year, it sold its retail pharmacy, which had been at 84 Marginal Way in Portland and is now owned and operated by a former employee. Also this year, it invested in pharmacies that offer specialized fertility medications. In March, it acquired Healy Pharmacy in Warrenville, Ill., and in October it acquired Village Fertility Pharmacy in Waltham, Mass. More than bricks and mortar, the two specialized pharmacies give ABD a deeper staff of pharmacists and help ABD tap into a network of specialists that can refer products and services.

"You're buying relationships with referral services, someone who says, 'I'm recommending you go in this direction,'" says Catherine Cloudman, a principal at ABD.

Of the 200 clinicians certified in specialty pharmacy nationwide, nine are at ABD. In addition to producing specialized medications, ABD can offer consultation and can negotiate health care coverage on patients' behalf.

"This population is not healthy and needs a lot of assistance," says Cloudman.

Read more

CVS to acquire Apothecary By Design

Medium company winner: Maine Coast's rapid growth fueled by export sales of lobster

Small company winner: Opportunity knocks for Cheating Gourmet's co-founder brothers

Large company runner-up: Tilson

Large company runner-up: OTTO Pizza

Medium company runner-up: Horch Roofing Inc.

Small company runner-up: Energy Circle

Small company runner-up: Maine Foodie Tours

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