In a world dependent on the internet and humongous superstores, mom and pop businesses that occupied simple downtown stores are on the verge of extinction. Independent pharmacies are being forced out of business and are searching for ways to survive.
Pharmacy technician students may be focused on the next big test, but considering where to work in the future is an equally important task. The age and backgrounds of pharmacy technician students are greatly diverse, so some may not even realize how much pharmacies have changed in the past ten years.
St. Louis Today reporter Jim Doyle has a very insightful article that explores this new pharmacy landscape that is on the not too distant horizon. “Independent, family-owned pharmacies are struggling to stay in business. Pinched by insurance companies, large retail chains, online pharmacies, Canadian outlets, and mail-order plants, many neighborhood pharmacies in the greater St. Louis area have closed.”
Much of Doyle’s article is based in the St. Louis area, but unfortunately this problem is widespread. “Jennifer’s Pharmacy & Soda Shoppe on Central Avenue in Clayton, for example, opened a lunch fountain to bring in more customers. It also sells children’s games, stuffed animals, greeting cards, vitamins and skin care products. The pharmacy still sells generic drugs and hormone replacement therapy compounds — but avoids entanglements with health insurance companies.
“’They scrape it down to the point where you’re making pennies per prescription,’ said proprietor Jennifer Rich, explaining that insurers’ ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ contracts dictate a customer’s co-pay obligation and set low reimbursement rates for drugs.”
The mail order business is booming for many pharmaceutical companies as they provide the convenience of home delivery, fill prescriptions for up to 90 days, and the volume of medications they deal with allows for lower prices. However, “recent Consumer Reports magazine survey found that independent neighborhood drugstores had higher customer satisfaction ratings than larger retail chains because of fewer errors, swifter service at the pharmacy counter, accessibility to pharmacists, and a higher likelihood that medicines will be ready when promised.”
Those who are in a pharmacy technician program in the San Francisco Bay Area need to be aware of the ever changing business of the pharmaceutical industry. Not only are medications, their dispensaries and their method of treatment constantly changing, but the business side is also adjusting to modern conveniences and profit margins.
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