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Posts Tagged ‘National Community Pharmacists Association’

Independent Pharmacy Rated Highest in J. D. Power’s Annual Survey.

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Each year, J. D. Power rates pharmacies and the profession of pharmacy. In the 2017 ranking, which was just released in September, J. D. Power found that Good Neighbor Pharmacy (of which we are a part as an independent retail drugstore) “ranks highest overall among brick-and-mortar chain drug stores.”

What does that ranking mean? It means that independent pharmacies, under the umbrella of the Good Neighbor Pharmacy label, are the most loved and highest rated among all pharmacies.

Good Neighbor Pharmacy features the slogan we love and that you see broadcast on our windows: “Locally Owned. Locally Loved.” We think that slogan sums up the J. D. Power rating.

To read the J. D. Power survey, go HERE.

Additionally, each year, Gallup takes a look at the honest and ethical standards among various professional fields. In healthcare, pharmacists and nurses typically rank number one and number two with having very high standards. Not surprisingly, Congress ranks at the very bottom of the ratings with 59% of respondents saying their honesty and ethics were very low.

At the end of 2016, pharmacists came in second place after nurses in the annual Gallop poll. The polling showed that 67% of those who were surveyed thought pharmacists were very honest and ethical. Nurses, by the way, were rated very honest and ethical by 84% of respondents.

To see the Gallup listing, please go HERE.

The National Community Pharmacists Association’s (NCPA) CEO, B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA, issued the following statement about the Gallup survey: “We commend community pharmacists across the country on their impressive showing in the latest Gallup survey of Americans’ views of honesty and ethical standards. People continue to hold pharmacists in very high regard. In this survey covering 22 professions, pharmacists are the second most trusted. 

“It is time for payers and policymakers to better utilize the accessibility, expertise and public trust in pharmacists. NCPA will carry that message into 2017 as health care reform efforts accelerate and the shift toward a value-based care system continues.”

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Examples of Mail Order Pharmacy Waste and Why Mail Order is NOT Cheaper!

At the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, the group, which represents the interests of independent drugstores (like Plain City Druggist) and community pharmacists (like Joe and me) gave an important talk about the wastefulness of mail order pharmacies.

In a slide show of photos that were sent in by community pharmacies participating in the “Dispose My Meds Program” (where customers brought in unused medications for safe disposal), NCPA showed thousands of dollars in medications that mail order pharmacies continued to send to patients all the while charging the patients’ prescription plans. These were medications that the patient did not order, want, or need and ended up bringing to their local pharmacy for disposal.

Sometimes a patient was deceased, but the mail order pharmacy continued to send medications even after being told numerous times about the error. The medications continued to be billed to the insurance plan.

Other times, patients were set up on “auto-shipping” plans and received medications even when they did not need refills, just so the company could bill for and receive payments for the medicine.

Who pays for this medication waste? The business purchasing the drug plan that requires mail order, the patients themselves, and, ultimately, all of us who must cover the mounting costs of health care.

To read the full article and see lots more photos of wasted medicines (and, ultimately, wasted money), go HERE. The photo at the beginning of this article shows an example of medication waste with mail order.

And read the NCPA blog posting about this HERE.

You can also watch a video about mail order medication waste HERE.

Beyond the waste of money in unused medications, mail order pharmacies offer false savings to the companies that choose them to provide their constituents with a medication plan. While many people have the perception that going with a mail order company is cheaper for them (they get a 90 day supply for the same co-pay as a 30 day supply–which we unfairly cannot provide the patient), there are many reasons why this is NOT the case.

For one thing, many of the mail order companies get rebates from drug companies when they use their “brand name” medications. Many mail order companies have gotten into trouble via lawsuits for switching patients to more expensive brand name drugs to increase their rebate checks, passing the costs on to the companies purchasing the prescription plans and thus, ultimately, the patients.

Community pharmacists are known for trying to save patients money by switching from more costly brand drugs to equivalent generic medications. Community pharmacies don’t get any giant rebates from drug companies for doing what is right for their patients.

This is just one instance of the way mail order companies are actually more expensive than local community drugstores. To read an article that details the many, many “False Savings of Mail Order,” go HERE.

You can read lots more disturbing articles about mail order companies and the “PBMs” or “Pharmacy Benefit Managers” that provide these plans and often own the mail order companies (talk about a conflict of interest!) HERE.

If you would prefer to have the choice to get your medications from your local pharmacy and are tired of these giant companies dictating prices and limiting access to pharmacy services, please consider writing your member of Congress. Right now, we need you to write and oppose the merger of Express Scripts and Medco, which will lead to one of the most enormous mega-mergers in pharmacy history.

To read more about why this merger is a threat and to write your Congressional representative to oppose it, please go HERE.

The 3/50 Project Asks People to Shop Locally.

While Joe and I were at the NCPA (National Community Pharmacists Association) annual meeting in Philadelphia, we sat in on a marketing program and one of the things the speaker introduced us to was “The 3/50 Project.”

The 3/50 Project asks which local or independent stores in your community would you MISS if they suddenly disappeared?

They also state that “for every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays here. Spend it online and nothing comes home.”

The 3/50 Project asks you to choose three local businesses and spend $50 in those stores to save your local economy.

Joe and I are just starting a shop local program in the pharmacy, so be on the look out for more information on that. We will have signs, stickers, and bag stuffers explaining why we think it is important to shop locally. Additionally, we have asked our employees to “shop locally,” and we’ve put our money into encouraging them to do that. Joe has officially made the two dollar bill the local currency for Plain City. We gave each of our staff twenty-five two dollar bills with the only limit on their use being that they have to be spent in local businesses. As the weeks go by, we’re going to see if other Plain City shop owners notice an influx of two dollar bills in their cash registers. We hope this will show people just how much their money fuels our local economy.

At Plain City Druggist, we completely agree with the idea of The 3/50 Project and shopping locally. In the next month, Joe and I, as well as our staff, will be doing our best to spend $50 (in two dollar bills) in local businesses that we know we cannot live without. We’d ask you to consider doing the same. We also hope we are one of those businesses you would hate to lose.

Answering Questions for the Student Chapter of NCPA at OSU.

On Monday, October 18, Joe and I attended The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy’s Student Chapter of NCPA (National Community Pharmacists Association) lunchtime meeting. Joe spoke to the group of attending pharmacy students about the importance of independent pharmacies and the role NCPA plays in helping students and independents. I was just mainly there for moral support for Joe. Our fourth year pharmacy student, Matt Byrdy, who is doing his rotation with us this month, also kindly attended.

Our other pharmacy student, Evelyne Ntam, is the president of the student chapter of NCPA and had invited Joe to speak to her fellow students. Evelyne gave Joe a list of questions that she wanted him to answer during his talk, but he ran out of time and instead informed them that he would answer them via the blog (which means that I am now taking his answers and making them sound very, very intelligent!).

Please remember that as you are reading the answers to these questions that this is Joe replying.

Why did I choose pharmacy? When I was in high school, I worked for Wal-Mart in Urbana, Ohio as a stockman. I was in charge of signage for the entire store, plus I was always building items or retrieving things from top shelves for people. Because of these job requirements, I quite often toted around a 16 foot ladder. This ladder really required two people to carry it, but usually I was the one weaving it through the aisles by myself. Because of my constant handling of the ladder, I developed a lot of blisters on my hands that eventually turned into calluses. I had rough, working hands.

When I was maneuvering the ladder around the store, I often passed by the pharmacy. The pharmacist, Bob, was always sitting on a little stool smoking a cigarette (completely unacceptable today, but okay in the late 80’s) and listening to the stock report on his AM radio. One day, as I passed by, Bob stopped me to have me carry something for him. I was a Junior in high school at that time and trying to decide what I wanted to do when I got to college. I began asking Bob if he thought I could be a pharmacist. He told me that I just had to be good at math and science and if I worked hard enough I could make enough money to buy a Maserati.

I didn’t know what a Maserati was until later when I looked it up in a book in our school library (this was before the days of the internet–hard to imagine there was ever a time, but it did exist) and discovered that, yes, I would like an expensive Italian sports car like Joe Walsh sang about. What I noticed at the time, however, when I was talking to Bob, were his baby soft, pink hands–completely un-callused and velvety smooth. I decided that I wanted a job where I could have hands like Bob’s.

Why did I choose OSU? While many of the students who come to OSU come from many, many miles away, I did not have that option. I had to choose the school closest to me, because I was going to commute from home, and I had to choose the one that was the most cost effective, because I was going to pay for it myself. I checked into Cincinnati and Ohio Northern, but they were too expensive and too far away. I could not afford to live on campus. Plus, once I found out that OSU’s College of Pharmacy was ranked fifth in the nation, I was very happy OSU had been closest and cheapest.

When and why did I choose to become an independent pharmacy owner? As I was approaching graduation from pharmacy school, I was called for jury duty. Jury duty for Madison County, where I lived, was held in the county seat of London, Ohio. While I was on my lunch from jury duty, I happened to walk by The Medicine Shoppe and stopped in. That was when I met pharmacist Ernie Sparks and fell in love with independent pharmacy. Ernie’s store was so busy and the customers all seemed to love and respect Ernie. That was a new aspect that I had never seen. In many of the chains I had worked for, the customers took out all their anger on the pharmacists and didn’t seem to like or respect them. I heard people calling Ernie “Doc” and asking him for advise on everything from medical problems to car problems. This felt like a huge family and I liked it.

While I was in the store, I asked Ernie if I could do a rotation with him. He told me that if I filled out all the paperwork and got things set up for him to be a preceptor, he’d love to have me. And that began my love of independents. It was such an exciting environment and Ernie controlled every aspect of that environment.

Is it recommended to work for someone before buying a store? I would definitely recommend either working for an independent pharmacy or doing several rotations at independent pharmacies before making the decision to be a pharmacy owner. By getting work experience in an independent, you will be more ready to face the unique challenges of this career.

What challenges do I face as an independent pharmacy owner? One of the biggest challenges is unfair competition with chain stores and insurance companies. For example, I will fill a prescription for one of our patients. Within a few days, they get a letter in the mail or a personal phone call from their insurance company telling them they should get their prescriptions filled at XYZ pharmacy which is owned by the insurance company. The patient doesn’t know this. They think that somehow I have given this information out to another pharmacy and violated their privacy. Or they are told if they go to the other pharmacy, it will be cheaper. Sometimes, they get letters saying that the only pharmacy that takes their insurance is this other place, even though I obviously do.

If it came down to just beating the chains and mail order through service, we would win every time. We know our customers by name. We deliver to their door. We buy our groceries and other things locally. We support the schools and give to charitable organizations that work within Plain City and the surrounding areas. We are active in our community. But we have to compete with mail order and chains that use unfair practices and don’t care a bit about the Plain City community.

How did I choose our current location? Robin and I chose Plain City, because we lived here and there had not been a pharmacy in the town for over seven years.

What is my best advice for students interested in becoming an independent pharmacy owner? My advice for students would be for them to join NCPA and attend meetings, conferences, and take advantage of other opportunities provided by the organization. NCPA offers a super way to network with people involved in independent pharmacy. I would also advise getting an independent pharmacy mentor, someone who owns their own store and can show you the ropes. Ernie Sparks of Ernie’s London Apothecary (formerly The Medicine Shoppe) in London, Ohio was my mentor. I still call him when I have questions or face challenges.

Additionally, NCPA offers a pharmacy “Ownership Workshop” that I would recommend attending. Robin and I went to one of these workshops in 1997 in Memphis, TN right before we opened Plain City Druggist in 1999. This workshop gave me the confidence I needed to open our pharmacy.

Where do I see the future of independent pharmacy going? I think the future of independent pharmacy is very promising. There are going to be a lot of stores changing hands in the next few years as older pharmacists retire and need to pass their pharmacies on to the next generation. Believe me, those pharmacists do not want CVS or Wal-Green’s buying their stores. They want you, the future pharmacists, to buy them and continue on their tradition of serving their community.

If you have any further questions about independent pharmacy, please feel free to email Joe at pcdruggist@earthlink.net