PHARMACY

APCI targets members’ needs for success

BY Bruce Kneeland

American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc.
CEO: Tim Hamrick
Corp. Offices: Bessemer, Ala.
Number of Members/Stores: 1,300
Web page: www.apcinet.com

One of the reasons the American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc. has been successful is because its board of directors is actively involved in setting the goals and objectives of the organization and “making sure everything the organization does is focused on making its members successful,” according to Tim Hamrick, CEO of the 25-year-old, 1,300-member group headquartered in Bessemer, Ala.

One of the cooperatives’ most notable services is a circular program. The full color circular goes out monthly in two versions: a four-page circular featuring 50 items or an eight-page circular with about 85 items. Headed by Paul Bruno, who worked for Big B Drugs prior to joining APCI, this ad program features items that have a genuine appeal to consumers, not merely those collecting co-op funds. The front-end support team sources items from a number of suppliers and is able to warehouse and then distribute them under an innovative agreement with one of McKesson’s distribution centers, providing both APCI members and McKesson with a cost-effective way to grow sales.

With so much of a pharmacy’s business and professional issues being affected by third-party reimbursement and government programs, APCI devotes a major portion of its resources to this area, according to Hamrick. For example, he said the group has a full-time VP government and regulatory affairs, Bill Eliy, who visits Washington, D.C., at least six times a year to work with the people and organizations that are fighting for the policies that will support independent community pharmacy, as well as working with a number of state associations.

APCI takes pride in the success it has had in working with third-party payers, saying APCI’s third-party support program, known as American Pharmacy Network Solutions, has been effective in dealing with a number of contract issues and helping to keep pharmacy benefit managers and other payers honest in the way they work with APCI members. One outshoot of the group’s commitment to this area is an effective average wholesale price-resubmission and reconciliation service. Here, a full-time employee is dedicated to working with all the reports and monitoring all contracts, and then proactively contacting stores whenever claims encounter any problem or a claim can be appropriately resubmitted to garner better reimbursement for the member pharmacy.

APCI also produces an annual trade show. Last year’s show attracted about 80 suppliers and featured a prototype front-end pharmacy with aisles of OTC, general merchandise, seasonal, snack and sundry items to help show pharmacists how to merchandise for profit. This year’s show, as part of its 25-year anniversary theme, is an Alaskan cruise from June 10 to 17.

Hamrick believes that as long as his members continue to succeed, the future is bright for independent pharmacy. After all, he said, people like dealing with people they know and trust.

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PHARMACY

Rhode Island develops prescription savings program for residents

BY Alaric DeArment

PROVIDENCE, R.I. Residents of Rhode Island can save an average 30% on prescription drugs using a card issued to them free of charge.

The card, RIRx, is similar to prescription drug cards issued in several states already through a non-profit program administered by United Networks of America. The cards are accepted at more than 54,000 national and regional pharmacies, according to the program’s Web site, www.FreeDrugCard.us.

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce will seek to create awareness and distribute the cards.

“The cost of healthcare is a top concern for Rhode Island’s residents,” chamber president Laurie White stated. “With unemployment on the rise, due to the stalling economy, many individuals and families are finding themselves without health insurance.”

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Anti-crime measures in Congress win strong endorsement from NACDS

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON Congress is moving on two fronts to combat organized crime against pharmacies and other retailers, generating strong praise from chain pharmacy leaders.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores Friday issued a letter to Reps. Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in support of their introduction of H.R. 1173, the Organized Retail Crime Act of 2009. The bill would define organized retail crime and expand fraud statutes to include the illegal use of gift cards, Universal Product Code labels, or radio identification transponders.

The Ellsworth-Jordan bill also recommends that the United States Sentencing Commission review and amend the sentencing guidelines for convicted organized retail crime offenders.

H.R. 1173 has gained bi-partisan backing from co-sponsors including Reps. Arthur Davis, an Alabama Democrat, and Republicans James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin, John Kline of Minnesota and Mike Rogers of Michigan.

“This strong bipartisan legislation will help to stem the growing problem of organized retail crime, by providing much needed clarity within the U.S. criminal code to prosecute such criminal behavior as a federal felony, including facilitation of such illegal activities,” NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson told lawmakers in his letter Friday. “As you know, organized retail crime is responsible for over $30 billion in losses annually, resulting in increased costs for merchants, higher prices for consumers, and lost tax revenue for state and local governments. In addition to increased costs faced by retailers to cover losses and investment in additional security measures, consumers are placed at risk when package tampering occurs on consumer health care products, such as infant formula and OTC medications.”

NACDS, Anderson pointed out, “has long advocated for federal legislation that treats theft committed by organized, professional crime rings as a federal felony, especially since much of the stolen product is transported across state lines.”

Besides arming federal law enforcement officials with “the authority to pursue and prosecute individuals who engage in such criminal activities,” Anderson noted, the Ellsworth-Jordan bill “also targets criminals’ use of online marketplaces to sell the fruits of organized retail crime to unsuspecting consumers and establishes specific and narrow obligations for operators of online marketplaces.”

The chain pharmacy organization also endorsed H.R. 1166, the E-Fencing Enforcement Act of 2009. In a letter sent Friday to Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., who is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, Anderson thanked Scott for introducing the measure.

“Your legislation will help to stem the growing problem of the use of online marketplaces by criminals to redistribute stolen merchandise, including those obtained through organized retail crime,” Anderson told the lawmaker.

H.R. 1166 would prosecute the electronic fencing of stolen products, and empower retailers to seek relief against high-volume sellers who engage in the e-fencing of stolen merchandise.

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