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.
***Many of the prescription products discussed below can be purchased from Real Value Rx. You can create your account on their website or send them an email.
NSAIDs, Pain, and Muscle Spasms
Indomethacin 20mg SoluMatrix (Ayurax)
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.
Chlorzoxazone 250mg (Solubiomix)
Chlorzoxazone is a very effective muscle relaxer that can be used on both acute and chronic injuries. The 250mg dose allows for greater dosing flexibility for patients. Patients can take less when they need less and more when they need more. The NDC is 69499-0330-60 and comes in 60 count bottles. There is a manufacturer coupon that is good on commercial plans to bring the patients’ copay to $0 for most covered patients.
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.
Clemastine Fumarate Syrup (Ayurax)
There used to be several prescription antihistamines available, but many of them have been recatergorized as OTC. If you are looking for a potenet, wide-use, and effective prescription antihistamine for your patients, then Clemastine is your answer. It is a liquid medication so good for all ages. Histamine is an issue not only in seasonal and chronic allergies, but also in many dermatosis. There is also very positive research ongoing about how Clemastine may be useful for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients in helping to remyelinate their nerves. The NDC is 73308-0358-12 and does come with a copay coupon and the mail-in rebate patient assistance programs.
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.
Ortho DF (Basiem)
I have many patients that love their Ortho DF. It is a combination of folic acid and vitamin D. As a functional medicine enthusiast, I know how critical vitamin D is to helping relieve so many disease states. From skin conditions, to gut issues, to pain, to allergies and so much more. Chances are over 90% of your patients could benefit from taking Ortho DF. The NDC is 69597-0301-30. Ortho DF does come with Solubiomix’s unique 2 way manufacturer coupon program. There is the typical online copay card that can be used for many insurance (excluding any proccessed by Caremark) and then there is the patient mail-in rebate program that all patients are eligible for. An alternative to Ortho DF is Xyzbac.
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. We are always happy to help.
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.