January 28, 2020
Inside: Finding reliable low-price or discounted pharmaceuticals can be a challenge. Here’s the best way to save money on wholesale drugs while keeping your pharmacy business safe.
There are lots of opportunities to buy drugs outside of your primary contract. You probably rely on secondary suppliers to get through shortages or supplement your inventory.
With hundreds of secondary wholesalers to buy from, narrowing in on the best deal can be near impossible. There’s limited time to compare prices, and even when you do find the lowest price, that supplier may not be reliable. Pitfalls like substandard drugs and wasted time mean you have to be smart about which secondaries to buy from in order to save the most money in the long run.
Here are some “dos” and “don’ts” of finding low price or discounted pharmaceuticals, whether brand or generic, that truly save money while also protecting your pharmacy and patients.
Time is money. Keep this in mind as you search through every single wholesaler looking for the absolute best deal on prescription drugs. While you may end up finding low-price generics or brands, it could be costing you in other areas.
It’s time you could be spending with patients or making other improvements to your pharmacy. Instead of going down the rabbit hole, find one or two secondary suppliers that you trust to have consistently low prices and buy from them. You may not always get the absolute lowest, bargain barrel price, but the hassle you save is invaluable.
Comparison shopping is tempting, but even if you do manage to get the lowest possible price on every individual item, you won’t necessarily have saved the most money in the long run.
If you have a contract with a primary wholesaler, you have the opportunity to earn rebates on your purchases. These are based on volume, especially with generics, and they result in substantial savings when maximized.
When you spread out your purchases among secondary suppliers, you risk not hitting your generic compliance requirements and miss out on thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars in rebates. Shopping smart means concentrating most of your purchases with your primary wholesaler, and buying from a secondary supplier when you know it won’t risk hitting your generic compliance ratio targets.
If you find a drug priced so low that it seems too good to be true, it probably is. A prescription might have the right label, but there’s a chance that it might be counterfeited.
Stolen, substandard, and counterfeit drugs are common in the international supply chain, so you have to be especially careful when it comes to imported pharmaceuticals. Those low-price wholesale pharmaceuticals may put your patients at risk.
The recently implemented Drug Supply Chain Security Act is designed to protect U.S. patients from these substandard drugs, but since the supply chain is complicated, you should remain on guard.
Pharmacies need to know the source of the drugs they buy in order to know they are safe. Members of the Healthcare Distribution Alliance can only source their drugs directly from the manufacturer. By buying from HDA members, pharmacies can be sure the drugs they’re purchasing are safe.
Drugs have a “pedigree” that serves as a record of where it has been. Pharmacies should examine the pedigree for information including:
If the distributor won’t give you a pedigree, it’s a red flag the drug might have a shady past, and you should avoid doing business with them.
All pharmaceutical suppliers should have a license from the state board of pharmacy — it’s illegal for them to do business without it.
However, some state licensing requirements are laxer than others, and just because a wholesaler has a license, that doesn’t mean the wholesaler is trustworthy.
In addition to having a state license, you should also look for secondary suppliers that are accredited by VAWD (Verified-Accredited Wholesaler Distributors). VAWD accreditation is regulated by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy and has a stricter review process than state licensing boards.
VAWD certified wholesalers are screened through the NABP Clearinghouse and have their facilities, operating policies, and procedures reviewed, so you know they’re meeting the strictest standards.
When your primary supplier is out of something you need, your secondary wholesaler should have what you need in a pinch.
That’s why it’s important to pick a secondary supplier that has a full line of products. They should carry brand names, generics, over-the-counter drugs, and refrigerated products.
When you find low-price wholesale pharmaceuticals, it might make sense to buy in bulk, because you never know when you’re going to see a price that good again.
But buying too much of one product has hidden costs. When a product sits on your shelves, you incur holding costs. Because you’ve put so much much money into that bulk purchase, you have less money in the bank to pay your bills. Plus, the longer it sits, the more likely the drugs are to expire.
Essentially, the more product you have, the more holding costs you’ll incur, so it’s best to buy only the inventory you need at the moment.
In addition to consistently low prices, your secondary supplier should also offer you convenient full service. Online ordering will make it easy for you to shop for what you need, and fast shipping is a must.
Your secondary supplier shouldn’t require contract or charge membership fees, and it should reward you for your loyalty.
If you have a problem, you should be able to get ahold of a real person to help solve it.
BuyLine is a secondary supplier from PBA Health, designed with the needs of independent pharmacies in mind. It offers a full line of products (even controlled medications) at competitively low prices. BuyLine has Drug Distributor Accreditation (formerly VAWD) and has a fill rate accuracy of 99.9 percent, so you can rely on them to get you the correct products the first time.
With online ordering and next-day shipping options, shopping with BuyLine is quick and convenient. And if questions arise, BuyLine’s live chat feature means you can get answers fast.
BuyLine also provides steep brand discounts when pharmacies buy generics. That means they save twice: once by getting a competitive price on generic drugs in the first place and then by receiving brand discounts based on those purchases. There are absolutely no commitments with BuyLine — no fees, no contracts. Try it to see if you like it and bail if you don’t. Set up is simple and ordering even simpler.
PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy side of their business. The company is a member-owned organization that serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, expert contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, distribution services, and more.
PBA Health, an HDA member, operates its own VAWD-certified warehouse with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products.
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