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Indies continue to trump chains on service

BY Rob Eder

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — One area in which independent pharmacies always had the chains beat was in service — that is, if you believe any of those pesky consumer surveys.

(THE NEWS: White paper: Independent pharmacist recommendations drive sharper growth across certain OTCs. For the full story, click here)

In general, people tend to give indie pharmacists higher mark on such things as advice and consultations, and even product recommendations. That it is reflected in sales numbers is not surprising — first aid remedies versus bandages is a strong illustration.

But as Bob Dylan sang, "The Times They Are A-Changing," or at least they better be. The big drug chains are making investments to get pharmacists and health experts closer to patients. They all acknowledge that in the future, community pharmacy needs to be more than just filling scripts. The drug store of the future will be a place you go not just for products but for services, particularly of the health-and-wellness variety. Walgreens and Rite Aid are putting iPads in the hands of wellness experts (they each call them something else) to amp up the service. Walgreens has reconfigured the pharmacy so the pharmacist sits out in the middle of the healthcare quadrant of the store — it’s as though pharmacy is now one of the three main rings. In Indianapolis, the first market Walgreens converted to its new Well Experience stores, one pharmacy manager started a healthy baby program called Weight Check Wednesdays. Now Walgreens is going to roll the Wellness Experience into downtown Philadelphia.

What do you think? Will the chains ever outdo the indies on service? Post your comments below.

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GSK receives Power of Partnership award from AmeriCares

BY Allison Cerra

SAMTFORD, Conn. — A nonprofit global health and disaster relief organization has recognized a drug maker for its commitment to aiding disaster survivors and increasing access to health care around the world.

AmeriCares gave its Power of Partnership award to GlaxoSmithKline at the Healthcare Distribution Management Association’s Business and Leadership Conference in San Antonio on June 11. AmeriCares said it has partnered with GSK since 1989 to provide more than $168 million worth of medicines to people in need in 120 countries.

"GSK is one of our top donors, in both the quantity and quality of the aid they donate," AmeriCares president and CEO Curt Welling said. "By offering our medical experts a choice of medicines, GSK meets some of the most pressing health needs in the world and helps us make a profound difference in the lives of those who need assistance most."


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Upsher-Smith tabs prestigious DIANAs at HDMA conference

BY Rob Eder

MAPLE GROVE, Minn. — Upsher-Smith Labs has been named a 2012 winner of the Healthcare Distribution Management Association DIANA Awards. The Distribution Industry Awards for Notable Achievements in Healthcare, known more familiarly as the DIANAs, are awarded each year by HDMA to leading pharmaceutical and consumer product manufacturers.

This year, HDMA gave out 10 DIANA Awards at its 2012 Business and Leadership Conference at a June 11 awards ceremony in San Antonio. Upsher-Smith walked away with two of them — one for "Best Overall Branded Pharmaceutical Product Manufacturer with Sales to Healthcare Distributors of Less Than $300 Million" (third consecutive year) and another for the "Best Consumer Product Manufacturer with Sales to Healthcare Distributors of More Than $10 Million." It marked the third consecutive time Upsher-Smith has won the top spot in the Branded Pharmaceutical Manufacturer, and the second time overall it has notched victory in HDMA’s top Consumer Product Manufacturer category.

"Upsher-Smith strives to consistently deliver excellent service to our customers," said Scott Hussey, Upsher-Smith VP sales. "Receiving this honor for three consecutive years is valuable affirmation from the distributors of our commitment to consistently meet or exceed their manufacturer expectations. These awards speak volumes to us because of the importance we place on customer relationships."

Now in its 50th year, the DIANA winners are chosen by HDMA distributor members based on several criteria including: knowledgeable salespeople, high-level customer service, demonstrated flexibility and creativity in marketing, and incorporation of new technologies to ensure product safety and security.

"Upsher-Smith would like to thank the HDMA members for selecting us for these DIANA awards because they acknowledge our unwavering commitment to excellence in all that we deliver to our supply chain partners," said Tom Burke, COO, Upsher-Smith. "These awards are further testimony to the advancement we are making to achieving our vision to grow our pharmaceutical and non-prescription product businesses. We have immensely talented and dedicated employees and this is further validation of their consistent efforts to serve the needs of our distributors."

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