APCI targets members’ needs for success

American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc.
CEO: Tim Hamrick
Corp. Offices: Bessemer, Ala.
Number of Members/Stores: 1,300
Web page: www.apcinet.com

One of the reasons the American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc. has been successful is because its board of directors is actively involved in setting the goals and objectives of the organization and “making sure everything the organization does is focused on making its members successful,” according to Tim Hamrick, CEO of the 25-year-old, 1,300-member group headquartered in Bessemer, Ala.

One of the cooperatives’ most notable services is a circular program. The full color circular goes out monthly in two versions: a four-page circular featuring 50 items or an eight-page circular with about 85 items. Headed by Paul Bruno, who worked for Big B Drugs prior to joining APCI, this ad program features items that have a genuine appeal to consumers, not merely those collecting co-op funds. The front-end support team sources items from a number of suppliers and is able to warehouse and then distribute them under an innovative agreement with one of McKesson’s distribution centers, providing both APCI members and McKesson with a cost-effective way to grow sales.

With so much of a pharmacy’s business and professional issues being affected by third-party reimbursement and government programs, APCI devotes a major portion of its resources to this area, according to Hamrick. For example, he said the group has a full-time VP government and regulatory affairs, Bill Eliy, who visits Washington, D.C., at least six times a year to work with the people and organizations that are fighting for the policies that will support independent community pharmacy, as well as working with a number of state associations.

APCI takes pride in the success it has had in working with third-party payers, saying APCI’s third-party support program, known as American Pharmacy Network Solutions, has been effective in dealing with a number of contract issues and helping to keep pharmacy benefit managers and other payers honest in the way they work with APCI members. One outshoot of the group’s commitment to this area is an effective average wholesale price-resubmission and reconciliation service. Here, a full-time employee is dedicated to working with all the reports and monitoring all contracts, and then proactively contacting stores whenever claims encounter any problem or a claim can be appropriately resubmitted to garner better reimbursement for the member pharmacy.

APCI also produces an annual trade show. Last year’s show attracted about 80 suppliers and featured a prototype front-end pharmacy with aisles of OTC, general merchandise, seasonal, snack and sundry items to help show pharmacists how to merchandise for profit. This year’s show, as part of its 25-year anniversary theme, is an Alaskan cruise from June 10 to 17.

Hamrick believes that as long as his members continue to succeed, the future is bright for independent pharmacy. After all, he said, people like dealing with people they know and trust.

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