IPC taps PBM expertise of new leadership

Independent Pharmacy Cooperative
CEO/EVP: Donald Anderson
Corp. Offices: Sun Prairie, Wis.
Number of Members: 3,300
Web page: www.ipcrx.com

With 3,300 members, the Independent Pharmacy Cooperative is the largest of the independent pharmacy organizations. And, early this year, the organization made it clear that it was not ready to rest on its laurels but was seeking to enhance its services and grow even larger by bringing in a new CEO with a long history of success in retail pharmacy. Don Anderson, who joined IPC Jan. 27, spent 30 years at Longs Drug Stores, the West Coast regional chain powerhouse that merged with CVS last year. While at Longs, Anderson was responsible for pharmacy benefit management relations, contract negotiations, central fill operations, call center and e-prescribing initiatives. IPC said it is still too early to reveal future plans, but made it clear that the types of initiatives Anderson made at Longs are high on the priority list for the organization’s future.

A major asset upon which Anderson plans to build is IPC’s distribution center. This modern warehouse shipped nearly $500 million worth of pharmaceuticals, OTC, seasonal and general merchandise items last year. The 75,000-sq.-ft. warehouse is VAWD (Vertical Accredited Wholesale Distribution) and provides e-pedigree documentation. It also supports the IPC Retail Merchandise Advantage program. Each month, this carefully orchestrated ad circular and POP support program makes between 400 and 600 prebooked items available to both IPC members, as well as an additional 3,000 stores that have signed on for these profit-enhancing services.

Organized in 1983, IPC has contracted with McKesson for 25 years, and last year its members purchased a combined $7 billion from the wholesaler. According to IPC, this volume represented 75% of McKesson’s independent pharmacy sales.

The IPC Web site proudly proclaims that, in the first two months of 2009, it has returned more than $28 million in rebates to its members, and, Anderson added, that doesn’t even count what the organization saved its members through its ability to negotiate with vendors for special discounts and price concessions on a wide variety of pharmacy-related products and services.

Anderson pointed out that IPC has capabilities that go far beyond merely “buying better.” The ad program is designed to make sure members are able to attract new customers, and the general merchandise program will help participating drug stores source profitable seasonal and general merchandise lines that bring much-needed profitability to IPC pharmacies.

IPC also operates a vibrant and active government relations program headed by well-known industry veteran Mark Kinney. Kinney coordinates efforts with various national and state associations to help influence public policy, and works to get members to participate in the process. IPC also provides a variety of business operations and benchmarking services, whose goal is to help members operate more efficiently. One of these services allows pharmacies to compare confidential financial and operational data with other IPC members, allowing them to benchmark such line items as sales, labor costs, rent and other operating costs.

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