June 14, 2021
Inventory cost is everything at the seven pharmacies in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Health, which primarily serves the Native American and Alaskan Native populations. Contracted with the government, the pharmacies’ prices are set for their prescription medications no matter how much they pay for inventory.
“For us, it’s all about costs,” said Dusty Allen, director of pharmacy services at Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Health. “Cost savings directly affect our bottom line, just like any business, but even more so to us because that’s our main thing. We have a budget and we have to keep within that budget.”
As a former owner of an independent pharmacy, Allen knew that by purchasing only from his primary wholesaler he was missing out on lower-priced alternatives, especially on generics. So he went out to the secondary market to diversify his wholesaler options and discovered he could save a substantial amount by redirecting his generic purchases to BuyLine®, a secondary wholesaler with the lowest prices in the secondary market. “We did a comparative analysis between what we were currently purchasing and what BuyLine stocked and found it would save us quite bit, so we switched over,” Allen said.
One of the many advantages of BuyLine is its NDC stability. With other secondaries, Allen found that NDCs change frequently, and even if that may mean a lower price, it also means a lot more work for his staff to constantly change those NDCs in the ordering system. “BuyLine is a lot more stable on its NDCs than most of the other secondary wholesalers,” he said. “You’re not going to see those NDC changes over and over and over like a lot of the other secondaries.”
Some secondaries rely on pushing short-dated items, making not just their NDCs but also their entire inventory selection erratic and unreliable. Other secondaries offer a limited number of options, forcing the pharmacy to go to another source to fulfill its inventory needs.
Along with the stability of the NDCs, BuyLine offers a broad line of products, including brands, generics, OTCs, refrigerated products, and controlled medications. Allen fulfills his inventory needs with BuyLine, all while knowing he’s getting affordable pricing and reliability. “When there are shortages or hard-to-find items, BuyLine has given us another place where we can rely on getting inventory,” he said. “They have been great about having a lot of those items in stock. And the prices don’t go up as quickly as our other sources of inventory.”
Allen gets about 60 percent of his generic inventory from BuyLine, and because he saves so much money, he said he would like to buy even more. To do that, he’ll rely on the electronic data interface (EDI), which BuyLine is developing for his specific pharmacy system. BuyLine already integrates EDI with the most common pharmacy systems, and Allen knows how much time it can save him.
An independently-owned, NAPB-accredited distributor, BuyLine offers a full line of brand, generic, and OTC products 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.
The team at BuyLine is constantly working to improve the user experience to make buying as quick and easy as possible for busy pharmacists. The simple yet advanced online interface is a cut above most other secondary suppliers, Allen has found. “It’s really easy to search and to find items. That’s probably one of the best things about BuyLine’s system as a secondary wholesaler compared to others.”
BuyLine’s interface also includes numerous other convenient features that Allen appreciates, like a simple notification button for out-of-stock items, which automatically emails him as soon as the product is back in stock.
Every pharmacist has been there: You’re about to counsel a patient and the phone rings. It’s a secondary pitching you on their great deals. Thirty minutes later you’re verifying a prescription, and the phone rings again. The secondary wants you to know about even more great deals. And the phone continues to ring all day as you try to accomplish all the tasks required to run a business and care for patients. “When I hear secondary, I think of 50 phone calls a day with sales pitches,” Allen said.
These types of calls are the last thing Allen needs. “If you’re getting those all day, it gets pretty frustrating,” he said. “Usually it’s a salesman calling you saying ‘Hey, do you need this? You need this. You need this.’ And I’ve got a customer standing in front of me and I’m getting frustrated because I can’t help my customer.”
Allen doesn’t have to deal with that from BuyLine. Instead, he gets two emails a week letting him know which hard-to-find and popular items are in stock, or he can simply jump on the website and quickly see updated products and pricing. “That’s really nice, a quick way saying, ‘Hey, these are hard-to-find items that you may be looking for.’ That’s actually helpful,” he said.
This article was published in our quarterly print magazine, which covers relevant topics in greater depth featuring leading experts in the industry. Subscribe to receive the quarterly print issue in your mailbox. All registered independent pharmacies in the U.S. are eligible to receive a free subscription.
More articles from the June 2021 issue:
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.
Want more pharmacy business tips and advice? Sign up for our e-newsletter.