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Industry events showcase wholesalers’ commitment to the independent channel
Every summer, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson pull thousands of independent pharmacists from their stores for some serious business planning, continuing education, and a little R&R at retail tradeshows each of them holds. The independent channel is important to all three because it can be a higher-margin one than the chain drugstores or other channels; overall, according to IMS Health data, the independents represented about 12% of the dollar volume, but nearly 19% of the scrip volume, of the 2010 US market. Each of them also has a franchise, or franchise-like program for independents; ABC’s is the Good Neighbor Pharmacy; Cardinal’s, Medicine Shoppe; and Mckesson’s, Health Mart. This system also affords the wholesalers a pathway for selling privately labeled healthcare products.
Manufacturers are the indirect beneficiary of this attention, first by the wholesalers’ ability to extend the market access of their products, and secondarily by the variety of ancillary services that independent pharmacists can provide. Key among these are bundled services for specific therapies, including diabetes, cardiovascular and weight control. Pharmacies (of all types) are also an important channel for vaccines, which can be administered in the pharmacy. Above all, the independent pharmacies offer access, via coupons, adherence services and related programs, to the consumer, with the highly trusted community pharmacist as an intermediary.
Here’s a rundown of the newest offerings from the wholesalers:
McKesson announced that it now has 2,800 pharmacies in its Health Mart network, which is supported with national branding. The Health Mart network will be the first channel to use a new Physician’s Outreach Program, which provides business and marketing resources to enable local pharmacists to connect with healthcare providers in their area. This can help them “not only attract new customers, but also extend their reputation in their communities as a trusted source for clinical services and ongoing support,” says Rex Catton, SVP, McKesson U.S. Pharmaceutical. There is also a new Health Mart private-label brand, and a new online community for McKesson customers being rolled out.
Cardinal Health announced enhancements to its Front-End Product Management Solution, to aid in increasing non-prescription sales, a expanded business consulting and human-resource management services, and mobile access to Order Express, its online ordering service. The company is also launching a Women in Pharmacy initiative in conjunction with the National Community Pharmacists Assn. “Today, the vast majority of community pharmacy owners are men, even though women comprise about half of all practicing pharmacists,” says Mike Kaufmann, CEO of Cardinal Health’s Pharmaceutical segment. “To support the growth and long-term viability of community pharmacy, we need to do more as an industry to encourage women to consider owning their own pharmacy.”
AmerisourceBergen had the opportunity to introduce its newly appointed CEO, Steve Collis, to the pharmacists in attendance, including many of the 3,700 pharmacies in its Good Neighbor Pharmacy program. Enhancements to its national television programming, front-end services, and business coaching (InSite) program were unveiled. Additionally, the company is upgrading its package of services to improve access to the home healthcare market, and a Good Neighbor Pharmacy Provider network, which manages contracts and negotiates third-party reimbursement on behalf of the pharmacists. “Good Neighbor Pharmacy is poised to support the pharmacist with programs and solutions to help improve their business outcomes, so they can focus their attention on caring for their patients,” says David Neu, president, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp. The company also announced a new initiative, in conjunction with the Travel Medicine Assistance Program (Travel MAP) of the Univ. of Southern California, to provide training and certification for pharmacists to manage the vaccination/immunization programs international travelers often require prior to departure.