Health Mart empowers pharmacists, students for RxOwnership

ORLANDO, Fla. — McKesson’s RxOwnership group hosted its seventh annual Ownership Transfer Luncheon on Tuesday, where attendees interested in either acquiring an independent pharmacy operation, or selling one, could learn more about the programs and support available. 

“We all have a universal interest in independent pharmacy, but the industry has changed,” noted Bob Graul, national VP RxOwnership at McKesson. “We have far more pressures than we used to have. Regulatory issues and requirements are growing. Clinical outcomes are becoming more important; we have to change the way we practice so that we stay current and relevant.”

Limited networks and competition from both chains and mail order also pose their challenges, Graul added.

"Today, 24% of independent pharmacy operators own more than one location.”

“Because of this we’re seeing a big shift in the ownership ranks,” he said, noting that as many as 10,000 independent locations will change hands in the next 10 years. Today, 24% of independent pharmacy operators own more than one location, and there are more independents opening than there are closing.

McKesson, back in 2007, made a decision to invest in this segment and since then,the RxOwnership program has helped 2,172 pharmacies either transition or open, Graul said.

RxOwnership focuses on three core areas to help independent pharmacists either buy, sell or build a community pharmacy, including such comprehensive resources as local market intelligence and step-by-step guidance; individualized matching services to help match buyers and sellers (for students, that includes identifying internship and junior-equity opportunities); and financing options along with valuations and/or inventory credit.

McKesson on Tuesday also hosted a number of events supporting new pharmacy specifically designed for area pharmacy school students, including students from McWhorter School of Pharmacy at Samford University, The University of Florida Gainesville College of Pharmacy and the University of South Florida College of Pharmacy. The students were on hand to learn about independent pharmacy as a career choice during two educational sessions, and were invited to attend the Ownership Transfer Luncheon.

Christopher Cella, VP RxOwnership for the Northeast Region at McKesson, hosted a continuing education course that provided an overview of the requirements and process of opening a new pharmacy from the ground up, starting with the business plan. And pharmacy owners don’t do it alone, Cella said. They align themselves with three key team members, including legal counsel, an accountant and an insurance agent.

Financing is a key consideration, as is location. Cella shared a number of tips in identifying target locations, including contacting an area Chambers of Commerce to learn about potential communities with a need for an independent pharmacy, in addition to speaking with wholesalers like McKesson.

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