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Cardinal Health keeps commitment to fastest-growing demographic in community pharmacy

BY Michael Johnsen

SEATTLE — Cardinal Health hosted a full-day pharmacy ownership “boot camp” to support Women in Pharmacy in Seattle, Saturday, Aug. 10, at the Cardinal Health 2013 Retail Business Conference, helping to pave the way to independent ownership for a key demographic across pharmacy schools and pharmacy operations — female pharmacists.

“The changing demographics of pharmacy students really says a lot about what the future of pharmacy will be,” remarked Christi Pedra, SVP of marketing and customer solutions for Cardinal Health. “More women are entering the pharmacy profession than men, but we’re not seeing that translate into business ownership. Some can point to the fact that they haven’t been exposed to what it’s like to be a retail independent or work in a retail setting, but also there’s an opportunity to help women explore [those opportunities].”

And that’s an area in which Cardinal Health has committed to helping break through in recent years. Now in its second year, the Cardinal Health Women in Pharmacy boot camp was created to help identify critical skills necessary for new owners to succeed in today’s pharmacy business climate, and help get the ball rolling toward store ownership through critical training and sharing key tips of the trade, including finance basics and basic personnel management training. The boot camp also featured a panel discussion with successful, present-day female pharmacy owners, “showing women the way to ownership and helping established owners grow their businesses is the mission — and passion — of the Women in Pharmacy Initiative,” Cardinal Health noted. The program was open to pharmacy students, alumni and pharmacy employees interested in owning their own business.

“What we’re trying to do is elevate the awareness [among women] that they can own their own store,” noted Steve Lawrence, SVP independent sales for Cardinal Health. Today most owners are men despite the fact that women comprise more than 60% of pharmacy students, he said.

“It’s going to be critical for women to be owners if you want independent pharmacy to thrive and grow,” added Michael Kaufmann, CEO of the Pharmaceutical Segment at Cardinal Health.

Helping prospective pharmacy owners find mentors is a key element of the boot camp and the work Cardinal Health does all year long to support female ownership, Pedra said.

“Pairing women with good mentors [is] a good focus for [the program],” noted Beverly Schaefer, pharmacist owner of Katterman’s Sand Point Pharmacy in Seattle, and a finalist for this year’s Ken Wurster Community Leadership Award (click here for more on the Wurster Award). “This program is designed to help women feel more confident in their ability to make good business decisions,” she added. “[Women in Pharmacy] offers them resources that they may not know are available — financial resources, design resources, partnering with manufacturers … it’s all support for either opening or running a business.”

“We think we can be very instrumental in helping young students and recent graduates understand what the options are in terms of pursuing pharmacy ownership,” Pedra said. “We think that we can coach and nurture them to the point that when they’re ready to start exploring ownership and financing options, that we can introduce them to some of the services that Cardinal Health provides like financial assistance through the Pharmacy Transition Services program.” That program helps link pharmacists interested in selling their businesses to pharmacists interested in owning and operating their own pharmacy.

“Women are the backbone of this profession,” added Kathy Campbell, owner of Medicap Pharmacy and OMC Pharmacy in Owassa, Okla. “You go into any pharmacy, whether it’s the pharmacist, the technicians, the cashiers or the customers, [women] are the ones who are in the pharmacy and are driving the business,” she said. “This is not just about women owning pharmacies; it’s about all women being empowered in their health care.”

Cardinal Health launched the initiative to offer women the resources, support and inspiration they need to start, manage and grow their own independent pharmacy, Lawrence noted. As part of the Women in Pharmacy programming, Cardinal Health also provided several important networking opportunities for female pharmacists, including its “Mix, Mingle and Mocha,” now in its third year as part of the Cardinal Health RBC lineup. “Mix, Mingle and Mocha” is aimed at helping to connect female pharmacy students with female pharmacy owners who may serve as mentors.

To keep up with all the news from Cardinal Health RBC 2013, visit DrugStoreNews.com/Cardinal-Health-Retail-Business-Conference-2013.

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FDA approves Par’s generic bupropion hydrochloride extended-release tablets

BY Alaric DeArment

WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a generic drug for depression made by Par Pharmaceutical Cos., the drug maker said Tuesday.

Par announced the approval of bupropion hydrochloride extended-release tablets in the 300-mg strength. The drug is a generic version of GlaxoSmithKline’s Wellbutrin XL and is used to treat major depressive disorder. The company already markets the generic drug in the 150-mg strength.

In September 2012, the FDA asked companies making generic bupropion hydrochloride extended-release tablets to conduct studies in order to ensure that their versions were as effective as the branded version following reports of differences in efficacy between the branded drug and some generics. Par said it conducted a study demonstrating that its version was equivalent to GSK’s.


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St. Louis independent nabs annual Wurster Award

BY Michael Johnsen

SEATTLE — Chris Geronsin, owner of Beverly Hills Pharmacy in St. Louis, was honored with Cardinal Health’s Ken Wurster Community Leadership Award during the closing ceremonies at the Cardinal Health annual Retail Business Conference in Seattle on Friday, Aug. 9, at the Washington State Convention Center.

“[Geronsin] is an individual who personifies what this award means,” said Chris Lanctot, Cardinal Health VP of independent sales, in making the announcement. “When it comes to his community, he goes above and beyond. His pharmacy provides specialized service like unit-dose packaging and 24-hour emergency service at no charge to St. Vincent’s Home for Children,” he said. “He is a major contributor to the Helena Hatch Special Care Center, which provides a safe haven for women with HIV.”

Geronsin actively partners with local healthcare entities on the delivery of care. That kind of commitment prompted the St. Louis chapter of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to write this endorsement for Geronsin: “Through our partnership with Beverly Hills Pharmacy, we are able to provide expensive branded asthma and allergy medications for a lower price than any other pharmacy. We have a discounted price for durable [medical] equipment through our relationship with Beverly Hills as well. [And] the pharmacy delivers free of charge to all of our clients even if they live outside the St. Louis area.”

Geronsin was 1-of-5 finalists for the annual Wurster Award, which honors the career and legacy of Tampa, Fla., independent pharmacist Ken Wurster, who passed away in 2008. Wurster, who was highly regarded for his commitment to serving his customers, epitomized the role of a community pharmacist who takes responsibility for the wellness of his community. “Ken left us too soon, but his legacy lives on in the form of this award,” Lanctot said. “It’s a living memorial and an example of exactly what independent pharmacy means to our communities, our patients and our families.”

The Wurster Award honors one Cardinal Health independent pharmacy customer for outstanding community leadership and involvement, their ability to inspire others, and their willingness to go above and beyond the day-to-day operations of a retail independent pharmacy.

In honor of his commitment to community service, Cardinal Health donated $10,000 to the St. Louis College of Pharmacy in Geronsin’s name. This year’s runners-up for the Wurster Award included Bhavana Patel of Hina’s Mercy Southwest Pharmacy in Bakersfield, Calif; Joel Rosenfeld of North Florida Pharmacy in Lake City, Fla; Beverly Schaefer of Katterman’s Sand Point Pharmacy in Seattle; and Paula Wakeland of Hewitt-Davidson Drugs in Sarasota, Fla.

Cardinal Health’s National Retail Advisory Board and a team of Cardinal Health employees evaluated all nominations for this year’s award. The five finalists were sent to an executive committee, including Cardinal Health leadership and NRAB members who together selected Geronsin for his extraordinary community commitment.

Geronsin serves on the board of directors of the Missouri Pharmacy Association, Cardinal Health National Advisory Board and as president of the Regional Cardinal Health Advisory Board. He also serves as an adjunct professor and guest lecturer for the St. Louis College of Pharmacy and has provided a wide array of volunteer and support services to the St. Louis Area Agency on Aging and the St. Louis Chapter of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. In addition, Geronsin supports the St. Vincent’s Home for Children, Helena Hatch Special Care Center and A Network of Communities of the Poor, helping to build 40 homes for needy families in the Philippines.

Geronsin will have the opportunity to pass his legacy along to the next generation. Earlier in the day he attended Cardinal Health’s Women in Pharmacy event with his daughter, Rachel, a recent pharmacy graduate.

To keep up with all the news from Cardinal Health RBC 2013, visit DrugStoreNews.com/Cardinal-Health-Retail-Business-Conference-2013.


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