Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Part of the Community

Posted by Jim Stevenson at Tuesday, October 12, 2010

This month I am on rotation at an independent retail pharmacy called Warren Sav-Mor Prescriptions. You might be surprised to learn that it is not in Warren, MI but rather on the border of Farmington Hills and West Bloomfield. The Warren part of the pharmacy's name comes from its long history as an independent pharmacy owned an operated by the Warren family. Sav-Mor is a conglomerate of independently owned pharmacies in Michigan. Sav-Mor gives these independent pharmacies some tools, like a computer system and some supplier contracts that allow them to compete against the big corporations.

When I think of an independent pharmacy, I typically think of a low-volume niche type store. That's not how this store is... they fill up to 500 prescriptions on a busy day. During my rotation, I have discussed the business aspect of an independent pharmacy quite a bit with my preceptor. Because he is so involved with the business-side of things, sometimes he will straight-up tell a customer "Look, I buy this at $45 for 30 pills. I'm not even making any money off of this." He's telling the truth, too, and the customers are often more satisfied after hearing that. Both my preceptor and the other main pharmacist at Warren have worked there for more than 20 years: they know retail pharmacy and the business side of it inside and out.

I've seen polls where pharmacists were perceived as one of the most trusted professions in communities. Now I can see it with my own eyes. Of course people get angry when there is disconnect between the prescribers, insurance companies, and pharmacy, but they listen to what the pharmacist has to say. For good reason, too: When I ask some of the customers if they've filled prescriptions there before, some answer "Yes, you must be new. I've been coming here for 20 years now."

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