January 12, 2021
After serving patients all day at the pharmacy counter, putting in an order with your pharmacy drug distributor should be hassle-free. But with so many options to choose from, deciding where to buy can turn into another stressor.
Finding a single, reliable pharmacy drug distributor for when your primary wholesaler is out of stock or simply doesn’t have the best price will save you both time and money. But don’t settle for a second-rate secondary.
To choose the right pharmacy drug distributor for your pharmacy, keep these characteristics in mind.
The price tag is often the first thing pharmacists think about when they are choosing a distributor. Whichever distributor you go with should be able to offer you low prices across their entire line of products rather than super steep price cuts on select items.
And while low prices should be a priority, keep reading to learn about the other characteristics that you should consider before using a pharmacy drug distributor.
Your distributor should make it easy for you to buy the drugs you need online. If a supplier is making you jump through hoops by making you talk on the phone with their sales department or requiring you to dust off your fax machine just to place an order, they are wasting your time.
Look for a distributor with a purchasing interface that can integrate with your pharmacy software system so you don’t even have to visit a website to get the drugs you need.
You place a big order for drugs that your patients need, and then you wait. And wait. And wait. A pharmacy distributor that has great prices won’t help you if their shipping times take an eternity. With unreliable shipping, you risk not having the drugs your patients need when they need them and losing their business to the pharmacy down the street.
Pharmacy drug distributors should have multiple, reliable shipping options so that you can rest easy knowing you’ll have everything you need on time.
Your distributor should send you exactly what you ordered every time.
Distributors that frequently send the wrong quantities of items or the wrong products altogether are wasting your time by making you wait for the correct order to ship and creating a risk that you won’t have what your patients need, even though you ordered with your patients’ needs in mind.
Look for a distributor that can be a one-stop-shop, providing a broad range of products like brand names, generics, refrigerated items, controlled substances, and OTCs.
When your pharmacy drug distributor has a wide range of products on hand, that means you can cut down on the shopping around. When you’re primary wholesaler has shortages or tries to stick you with high-cost substitutions, you can trust that your secondary distributor can fill the gap.
Low prices are great, but not when they come at the expense of quality. Unfortunately, you could be buying counterfeits, stolen, or illegally imported drugs that could harm your patients.
When buying drugs, ask the distributor to show you the pedigree. This document should demonstrate that the distributor can source all of the drugs it buys directly back to the manufacturer. If the distributor won’t show you the pedigree, that’s a red flag.
A great pharmacy drug distributor will show it appreciates you by offering a loyalty rewards program. When you invest in their business, they should invest in you in return.
Similar to credit card points or airline miles, a distributor’s loyalty program will reward you with points for purchases. Then, as you keep buying items and accumulate points, you can apply them to your future purchases.
Just because a company is selling the drugs you need doesn’t mean they are going to be a good business partner.
Don’t risk getting burned by fly-by-night operations and be sure to buy from distributors who have a proven track record. A state license isn’t enough to tell if a distributor is legitimate. Only do business with distributors that have NABP Drug Distributor Accreditation (formerly VAWD accreditation). These distributors have to meet a higher standard and submit to an inspection that ensures they are complying with industry best practices.
As an independent pharmacy, you will be best served by a pharmaceutical supplier that is also independently owned.
An independently owned distributor is more likely to understand your needs as an independent. It’s not answering to external shareholders or catering to the needs of larger pharmacies; it is catering to your benefits.
Just like your patients get more personalized care when they visit your independent pharmacy, you’ll get more personalized service from an independently-owned distributor.
Dive into the details before committing to a pharmacy drug distributor. They should offer favorable terms to their pharmacies.
In addition to multiple shipping options, other conditions that could make your life easier including the ability to pay with a credit card or get a line of credit from the distributor.
You should also be on the lookout for hidden fees or conditions around minimum orders. If you have to meet a minimum order requirement in order to get timely shipping, it might not be the right distributor for you.
Your distributor should make it easy for you to get ahold of someone when you have a question or problem. If a distributor hides their contact information in a labyrinthine website or puts you on hold for hours at a time, they are wasting your time.
A good distributor will make itself available through multiple channels like online chat, phone, and more to help you solve your problems quickly.
A distributor that has all of these characteristics might seem too good to be true — but it isn’t.
BuyLine from PBA Health offers all these features for independent pharmacies. An independently-owned, NAPB-accredited distributor, it offers brand-name drugs at -3.33% WAC and competitively priced generics.
Independent pharmacies who shop BuyLine’s full line of products will benefit from a convenient online shopping experience, or electronic ordering within your pharmacy software system, as well as next-day shipping and 99.9% fill rate accuracy — all without a contract.
PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy side of their business. The member-owned company serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, expert contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, distribution services, and more.
An HDA member, PBA Health operates its own NABP-accredited (formerly VAWD) 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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