While drug stores across North America have diversified their mix over the past few years, over-the-counter medications remain at the heart of most every pharmacy retailer’s efforts, helping to maintain the drug channel’s inherent value as a front-line healthcare provider and the outlet of choice for consumers suffering from a wide range of minor illnesses.
There are many ways a pharmacy operation can measure success; the most basic is to fill more prescriptions today than yesterday.
Quantity and quality: Those are the two metrics by which any pharmacy operation is measured — quantity of prescriptions dispensed and quality of services provided. Quantity keeps you in business; quality keeps your patients coming back. It’s a constant challenge for a small operator to score high on both metrics, but that’s exactly what McKesson’s 2013 Pharmacy of the Year Award recipient Parkland Health Mart Pharmacy, of Desloge, Mo., has done.
In 2006, Health Mart was a loosely cohesive buying and marketing group of 268 independently owned and operated drug stores, falling under McKesson Corp.’s store-support umbrella via its purchase of the old FoxMeyer wholesale business in the mid-1990s. Today, just seven years after its reinvention and relaunch by McKesson, Health Mart is the nation’s biggest independent pharmacy franchise and one of the fastest-growing drug store networks of any kind, with more than 3,100 member stores doing business in thousands of communities across the United States.
Like politics, retailing is local. That inescapable fact is behind the ongoing build-up of Health Mart’s local marketing and patient care initiatives as McKesson shifts more store support muscle to the more than 3,100 independent pharmacies allied with the Health Mart network through its Local Marketing Support Program.
“The best of a chain combined with the best of an independent pharmacy.” That’s how Health Mart president Steve Courtman describes Health Mart’s “unique value proposition in the marketplace.” That value, he added, is defined every day in thousands of communities across the United States by the pharmacy owner-operators who serve as the most accessible and most-utilized patient care providers in their local healthcare networks.
Success in the mass market can be an uphill battle for some niche brands as retailers trim selection, bolster private-label offerings and pass on smaller brands they perceive as higher risk. However, retailers also are increasingly looking to distinguish themselves from the competition, whether it is through exclusive offerings, customization or in-store services.
Has the explosion in generic utilization curbed pioneer-drug research and development? That's one concern floated by some pharmaceutical industry watchers, who claim that the stunning market share gains made by generic drug makers could reduce incentives for branded drug companies to spend to develop new molecular entities, conduct lengthy clinical trials, gain FDA approval and bring those new drugs to market.
It's been long accepted that politics makes strange bedfellows. That's certainly the case with the reauthorization in 2012 of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act.
Alabama's Supreme Court ruled in January that brand-name drug companies could be sued if patients suffer complications from generic versions of their medicines, according to published reports.