EPIC banks that independents drive innovation

President and CEO: Angelo Voxakis
Corp. Offices: Cockeysville, Md.
Number of Members/Stores: 650
Web page: www.epicrx.com

One of the unique aspects of EPIC is its deep roots in building a consumer brand that touts the advantages of locally owned drug stores. To help accomplish this goal, Angelo Voxakis, president and CEO, said that in 2007 EPIC invested $2 million in consumer advertising to support its 650 primary members. And it is clear that the company’s Web site has been designed with the consumer in mind.

But Voxakis said that over the past few years, working in concert with Mark Barwig, who joined EPIC as EVP three years ago, growth of the organization has eclipsed its original focus on the mid-Atlantic states with EPIC now serving members in 27 Eastern and Midwestern states. While this growth is clearly a positive for the organization it has forced its leadership to put a moratorium on consumer advertising while it studies options to more effectively use these funds.

Voxakis, a pharmacist and pharmacy owner, was a principal in the founding of EPIC, and he feels the profession of pharmacy owes a lot to independent pharmacy. “Most of the true innovation in patient care can be traced back to independent pharmacists striving to find new and better ways to care of their patients,” he said.

EPIC is managed by a team of professionals located in Cockeysville, Md., the headquarters for the buying group, and Richmond, Va., the operations center for its managed care network. A 15-member board governs EPIC, and each member serves three-year staggered terms. Even though Voxakis is one of those that helped found the group, he still comes up for election every three years, he said.

The EPIC organization provides its members with three core services. First, the group contracts with wholesalers and other companies to provide members with special prices, terms and rebates on the group’s combined purchases. This is the foundation for the organization, and its 650 primary members all benefit directly from these contracts. EPIC’s annual trade show, where vendors are able to meet directly with members, is scheduled for Sept. 11 to 13 in Baltimore.

EPIC also has a subsidiary corporation, The EPIC Network, which provides services to 1,500 stores. The network manages a PSAO that negotiates with third-party payers. It also developed a proprietary product, Rx Regulator, which provides pre- and post-edits, adjudication, reconciliation and rebilling services to ensure stores achieve maximum reimbursement form their third-party contracts. And, Voxakis added, the newest product is a Medicare Part D compliance program that helps members comply with such requirements as employee background checks, fraud and abuse training.

Finally, Voxakis said the organization devotes considerable resources to government and regulatory affairs, both at the state and federal level. Currently, EPIC operates a Political Action Committee and contracts with lobbyists in five states to support its members.

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