Independent pharmacies can and should win against Amazon Pharmacy.
On November 17, 2020, it happened. Amazon officially became a pharmacy with Amazon Pharmacy. How can you compete against behemoth Amazon? Independent pharmacies are the best sector to be able to do this. This 4-part series will give a new perspective and strategies you can implement to make sure you keep the patients you need and want to continue serving in your community.
Part 1: Dispense Unique Prescriptions To Your Patients That Amazon Pharmacy Can’t
I often say in life that everything is a double-edged sword. A characteristic is always bad and good at the same time. It’s even more true for the nuances of independent pharmacy. As independents, we can evolve our business model quickly to respond to industry changes. On the flip side, we are continually evolving our business model because of industry changes. It is plain exhausting. I get it. If you want to continue in this fight and be a successful pharmacy owner for years to come, let’s roll up our sleeves for another evolution.
If your patients see your pharmacy as just dispensing medications that their doctors prescribe and it’s a convenient place to pick them up, Amazon Pharmacy will win the convenience factor. Hands down, no questions asked. Instead, if your patients see your pharmacy has a health destination, a place to get advice, purchase unique products, and your pharmacist is a part of their healthcare team, you got the advantage over Amazon Pharmacy.
Pharmacists need to be getting involved in their patients’ treatment plans. Helping choose the right medications that will benefit the patient in all areas is the pharmacist’s duty. Pharmacists know the nuances of therapies, what OTCs the patient is taking, how much their copay is, which prescriptions have copay cards, and many other factors. Pharmacists are poised to optimize patients therapy. You can’t win against Amazon Pharmacy and be just an order taker. Amazon is the best at order taking. You can beat them by being an active participant in the healthcare team.
Dispensing Prescription Products That Amazon Pharmacy Can’t
Remember the frustration independent pharmacies were sharing when Walmart came out with their cheap insulin Relion? That anger was because we couldn’t get it. Walmart had a distinct advantage. Did you know that we also have that advantage? Many prescription products are only available to independent pharmacies. Yep, we have the edge. If you can grow your patient base taking these niche products, you don’t have to worry about Amazon Pharmacy stealing your patients. Patients won’t be able to find the prescription on their website. Here’s a summary of 5 products that you can be focusing on right now with your patients that Amazon Pharmacy cannot fill.
***All prescription products below are available from NABP Accredited wholesaler Wellgistics. You can create an account HERE or login to your existing account and order HERE***
High Blood Pressure
Conjupri (Levamlodipine) 2.5mg & 5mg (Burke)
Levamlodipine is the active enantiomer of amlodipine. It is a calcium channel blocker used to treat hypertension in children and adults. Conjupri is the brand name and it is currently only available as a brand. There are several studies available on Pubmed that show levamlodipine is just as efficacious and for some patients may be a better fit than racemic amlodipine. Patients that are diabetic and on amlodipine and patients with high cholesterol or high triglycerides and on amlodipine are 2 subsets of patients that may benefit from a switch to Conjupri. An equivalent dose of levamlodipine is half the dose of amlodipine.
Ketoprofen 25mg (Sterling Knight)
Ketoprofen is an NSAID used for pain and inflammation or acute or chronic conditions. It is more effective than Ibuprofen or Diclofenac for moderate to severe pain. The NDC for this product is 69336-0127-10. Sterling Knight also provides a manufacturer’s copay coupon that may bring down commercially covered patient’s copays to $0. Since these are 25mg capsules, patients have a lot of dosing flexibility from 1-3 capsules up to 4 times a day, max 300mg per day.
Fenoprofen 200mg (Sterling Knight)
Fenoprofen is another NSAID and has a great history of positive patient response. I have found with some patients that changing up their NSAID can bring additional relief. The FDA recommends using the lowest effective dose of an NSAID whenever possible, to reduce the risk of side effects. As 200mg capsules, you can fluctuate the dose based on the patient’s needs. You don’t always have to be using the maximum dose. A patient can take 1-3 capsules up to 4 times a day for a max of 3,200mg/day. A copay card is also available for this product, and it’s NDC is 69336-0124-10.
Indomethacin 20mg SoluMatrix (Ayurax)
The last of our NSAIDs is Indomethacin and its unique SoluMatrix formulation. SoluMatrix Fine Particle Technology(TM) is a proprietary technology used to create indomethacin drug particles that are approximately 10 to 20 times smaller than their original size. This dosage form allows the drug to dissolve quickly and be rapidly absorbed into the body. Indomethacin 20mg is the lowest dose FDA approved indomethacin on the market. You can dose it at 1-2 capsules up to 3 times a day. There is an available manufacturer’s copay card as well. The NDC is 73308-0350-30.
Triamcinolone 0.05% Ointment (INA)
There are many topical steroids on the market, so what makes this product unique? First, it is a low-potency option. As pharmacists, we know that using mid to high potency steroids for long periods causes unwanted side effects. Often you can tackle a flare-up at the beginning with a mild steroid. Second, the ointment base isn’t your typical petrolatum base. It is incredibly moisturizing and helps create a barrier on the skin. Lastly, this comes in a wide-mouth jar for easy use. I hate the small tubes and the small lids for ointments and creams. Especially as a mom when applying to kids. It’s NDC is 74157-0901-90.
Prescription supplements are not FDA approved drugs. They are a prescription because they contain 1mg of folic acid in them. There are so many formulations out there I can’t keep track of them all. This new formulation, Xyzmune, is an excellent combo of vitamins and natural products to help support your immune system. Xyzmune contains folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, echinacea, turmeric, ginger, and L-lysine. You are probably reading this blog just to take a break from giving flu shots; you could pass out the Xyzmune flyer to each flu shot patient to make them aware of prescription options available. There is a copay card to help reduce the cost, and patients can take up to 2 capsules per day. The NDC is 69597-0355-30.
These 6 products are only available to independent pharmacies. They give you an advantage over chains and even Amazon Pharmacy. DiversifyRx has created some fax templates that you can use when making a specific patient recommendation for their therapy for these products. You can access them by heading to the DiversifyRx Private Facebook Group. They are in the files section. If you are unsure how to use a fax template, reach out to us. Our help is always FREE!
Part 2 of How To Compete Against Amazon Pharmacy and Win is coming soon and will focus on the unique services that only you can provide to keep patients coming to your pharmacy.