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Wholesale Pharmaceutical Suppliers Pharmacies Should Avoid

Wholesale Pharmaceutical Suppliers Pharmacies Should Avoid

July 23, 2020

Inside: Look out for these red flags when choosing a wholesale pharmaceutical supplier.  

There are plenty of wholesale pharmaceutical suppliers out there vying to give you bargain barrel prices on drugs. But in your quest to find the best deals, you may be overlooking some signs that some wholesalers aren’t exactly what they seem to be.

If you buy from a bad actor offering dirt cheap prices, you could end up with counterfeit or substandard products on your pharmacy shelves and inadvertently put your patients’ health at risk.

Watch out for these negative traits in order to recognize an unprofessional wholesale pharmaceutical supplier and keep your business and patients safe.

No license or accreditation

If a wholesale pharmaceutical supplier doesn’t have a license from their state board of pharmacy, don’t trust them. It’s illegal for wholesalers to do business without them, and if you buy from them, that means you’re doing something illegal, too.

Before you buy from a wholesaler, check their drug distributor license on the FDA website.

And while you might think that a wholesaler with a state license is reputable, that’s unfortunately not always the case. Some states have regulations that are stricter than others, meaning that a less-than-legitimate wholesaler can acquire a license from a state with lax requirements.

Additionally, if the wholesaler doesn’t have Drug Distributor Accreditation (formerly VAWD) through the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, you should pass on doing business with them.

Every single pharmacy that undergoes this accreditation process has to meet the same rigorous standards. Even if a wholesaler has a license from a state with fewer regulations, to gain Drug Distributor Accreditation, they must undergo a criteria compliance review, including:


If the wholesaler hasn’t met these standards, you can’t know that they are operating legitimately, and you risk receiving substandard drugs.

Counterfeit products

When you see drugs priced so low that the deal seems too good to be true, it might be. Fly-by-night wholesalers will sell counterfeit, diverted, or contaminated drugs that may seem fine if you don’t look too closely.

Examine the pharmaceuticals you receive carefully, and if you catch any counterfeits, stay far away from the wholesaler that sold them to you. These are some of the ways substandard drugs fall short:


Remember, if these drugs slip through the cracks and get dispensed, they could harm or even kill your patients. A wholesale pharmaceutical supplier who peddles these products needs to be avoided at all costs.

Poor sourcing

Don’t buy drugs from a wholesale pharmaceutical supplier that can’t tell you where they came from. That’s one way you could end up receiving fraudulent or substandard drugs that have the potential to harm your patients.

If a distributor isn’t getting their pharmaceuticals directly from the manufacturer, you may not be able to tell where they’ve been or how many times they’ve changed hands before they have arrived at your pharmacy.

Instead, look for wholesalers that are members of the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA), which only allows members who source pharmaceuticals directly from the manufacturer.

A pedigree will help you determine where drugs have been. It includes information like the names and addresses of all the businesses who have handled the drug, dosage, container size, and more. If a distributor can’t give you a pedigree before you purchase a product, that’s a red flag (unless the manufacturer has designated the distributor as an “Authorized Distributor of Record”).

You should also check to make sure that distributors are compliant with the Drug Supply Chain Security Act, which is designed to improve pharmaceutical traceability. If the supplier doesn’t comply with the regulations, steer clear.

Low fill-rate accuracy

Picture this: you receive a shipment of a much-needed medication, but when you open the box, it doesn’t contain what you ordered. That leaves you scrambling to get a new shipment in so your patients can have the drugs they need without waiting.

Pharmaceutical distributors who can’t consistently fill your orders correctly should be avoided at all costs. If a wholesale pharmaceutical supplier has impressive fill-rate accuracy, they’ll want you to know about it. It will probably be posted on their website or be presented as part of their marketing materials.

When wholesalers don’t post their accuracy rate, it might be because it isn’t that impressive.

Limited product selection

You shouldn’t have to visit a dozen different suppliers to find what you need. And yet, many wholesale pharmaceutical suppliers only carry a limited selection of products.

To save you time, look for a wholesaler that sells a full line of products with consistently low prices. Beyond just generics, your wholesaler should also be able to sell brand-name drugs, over-the-counter products, refrigerated items, and controlled medications.

Substandard ordering interface

Don’t struggle with archaic platforms to do your ordering. If a wholesale pharmaceutical supplier is relying on phone calls—or even fax machines—to get orders placed, you should start looking for something more modern.

Instead, find a wholesale pharmaceutical supplier that meets your needs with easy online ordering.  Look for options for repeat purchases, previous orders, and an instant search bar with multiple ways to search for a product. Most importantly, seek one that offers electronic ordering within your pharmacy software system (EDI). Being able to pull up the price file right there in your pharmacy software makes comparing prices quick and streamlines the ordering process.

And if you have any trouble or questions, you should be able to get ahold of someone easily. Features like live chat can streamline your shopping experience.

A Reliable, Affordable Wholesale Pharmaceutical Supplier

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 the lowest prices in the secondary market. In addition to having low list prices, BuyLine also rewards purchases with cash rebates and significant discounts on brands. Earn up to an additional 10% cash rebate on generics and up to WAC -4% on brand.

BuyLine sources all of its products from an NABP-accredited (formerly VAWD) warehouse from PBA Health, an HDA member. With easy 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.

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.


An Independently Owned Organization Serving Independent Pharmacies 

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.

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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