March 7, 2018
Inside: When your independent community pharmacy buys pharmaceuticals from a distributor that’s an HDA member, you gain peace of mind. Because you’ll know your patients and your profits are protected.
Your pharmacy has near-unlimited options of secondary pharmaceutical distributors.
Many of them make the same promises.
And all of them claim to offer the best options for your independent pharmacy business.
So, how do you know what pharmacy distributors you can trust?
You can start by checking their credentials.
You might jump from secondary wholesaler to secondary wholesaler to price compare and save money on your inventory.
But are you spending as much time verifying who you’re buying from? Or, do you just look to see if the price is right?
Purchasing pharmaceuticals by price alone, regardless of where those drugs come from, can hurt your business. Because you can’t verify the quality of the drugs or where they come from in the supply chain.
Knowing who you’re buying from, and then choosing the right drug distributor, will help your business and your bottom line in the long run. (And often even in the short run.)
Credentials to look for in a pharmacy distributor:
If you haven’t discovered why VAWD certification is crucial for distributors, start here.
But then you’ll want to consider another important factor about your drug distributor: Is your distributor a member of the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA)?
The answer to that question could make the difference in your patients’ welfare and your business’s profitability.
The HDA, formerly the Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA), represents primary pharmaceutical distributors. Its members include 35 pharmaceutical distributors throughout the U.S. And it serves as a link between the nation’s pharmaceutical manufacturers and more than 200,000 pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, and other facilities.
HDA helps members “navigate regulations and innovations to get the right medicines to the right patients at the right time, safely and efficiently.”
Distributors must meet these requirements at a minimum to earn HDA membership:
Importantly, these distributors must purchase the bulk of their inventory directly from manufacturers. Instead of, say, buying from other distributors and re-selling them, as many secondary wholesalers do.
You may wonder why your independent pharmacy should care if the pharmacy distributor you buy from is a member of the HDA. It matters more than you think. Here’s why.
Before drugs reach patients, they can change hands more times than you can keep track of.
Sometimes ingredients are sourced from one country, packaged in another, and then repacked in another.
Within the distribution channel, drugs may bounce from one manufacturer to several different wholesalers before finally ending up at your pharmacy.
Because of the convoluted nature of the drug channel, and despite regulatory efforts to track prescription drugs through it, it’s susceptible to counterfeiting, contamination, and diversion.
Using VAWD-certified distributors helps counteract those safety problems.
But HDA members have an extra layer of oversight and accountability. They must adhere to another level of compliance and quality controls that further ensure the safety and efficacy of the drugs you purchase.
For example, because the HDA requires its members to source its products directly from the manufacturer, you’ll know that your products haven’t bounced through fraudulent secondary channels.
Or worse, counterfeit channels.
In other words, purchasing from an HDA drug distributor further protects your patients and your pharmacy.
The network of HDA members shares knowledge and resources to provide not only safety and efficacy but also innovative services and support to their customers.
This value-added approach is a requirement for membership. That means your independent pharmacy will receive more support from HDA members than other drug distributors, even if they offer lower prices.
This value addition is so important that it’s a part of HDA’s mission:
“HDA members are not simply distributors. They are technology innovators, information management experts, security specialists and efficiency professionals, whose expertise streamlines the supply chain to reduce costs and save the nation’s healthcare system both time and money.”
HDA also founded its own non-profit organization (the HDA Research Foundation) dedicated to conducting independent research on the healthcare supply chain. The foundation aims to provide “high quality business solutions that reduce costs, ensure public safety and create supply chain efficiencies.”
Those benefits spill over to pharmacies to help improve their businesses and the bottom line.
You might have noticed that many smaller secondary wholesalers that aren’t HDA members offer super discounted products at rates you sometimes won’t find with HDA distributors.
You’re likely tempted to purchase from these wholesalers because their prices look so good upfront.
But those prices from non-HDA wholesalers come with some tradeoffs.
Typically, you only have access to a small selection because the wholesaler is getting its products as leftovers from pharmacies or other distributors. And many times, they only offer generics. Not brands, over-the-counter products or cold storage items.
So, you’re left with two problems:
1. Those products don’t come directly from the manufacturer, so aren’t trustworthy
2. You can’t find the products you need when you need them
HDA members, on the other hand, must stock a full line of products.
When you partner with an HDA member, you know you’ll have access to nearly every FDA-approved brand and generic drug.
HDA members ensure the products come directly from manufacturers. And these pharmacy distributors provide you a full line of products so you can have access to exactly what you need when you need it.
Buy from HDA distributors for peace of mind not just for your patients, but also for your profits.
PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy side of their businesses. The company is an independently owned pharmacy services organization based in Kansas City, Mo., that serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, expert contract negotiations, distribution services, and more. PBA Health operates its own VAWD-certified warehouse and is a member of the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA).
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