PHARMACY

Costco to open second central fill in California

BY Doug Desjardins

BELLEVUE, Wash. Costco plans to open a second central fill center this year in the city of Corona, Calif. that will help service Internet orders and dozens of pharmacies in Southern California.

Costco senior VP of pharmacy Charles Burnett told Drug Store News about the plan at the company’s annual shareholders meeting in Bellevue, Wash., on Jan. 29. “We’re going to be working with AmerisourceBergen and we hope to have it up and running by September,” said Burnett.

He said the fill center would fill prescriptions for about 40 warehouses in Southern California and as far away as Las Vegas. Corona is located east of Los Angeles in Riverside County. Work on the building is scheduled to start in February.

Costco currently operates a central fill in Everett, WA with McKesson Corp. that opened 2006. For its second center, Burnett said Costco is working with AmerisourceBergen to try something different. “There are a lot of different systems out there,” said Burnett. “And we’ve heard great things about this one (AmerisourceBergen’s) so we’d like to give it a try.”

Burnett said working with a different company would also give Costco a point of comparison for future expansion. He said Costco plans to open “at least two more” fill centers and could open a third as early as next year.

Costco’s first fill center opened in 2006 and currently fills prescriptions for online orders, its PBM and for more than 40 warehouses in the Pacific Northwest.

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Boom in pharmacy openings leads to shortage of pharmacists

BY Drew Buono

ALEXANDRIA, Va. and ST. LOUIS, Ill. Pharmacies are booming in business and as a result new stores are being built at a rapid pace, so much so that there aren’t enough pharmacists to fill the new job openings, according to published reports.

According to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, there were 3,600 full-time openings for pharmacists throughout the nation last year reported by 37,000 member stores.

The reasons for the shortage, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association, are changes in insurance policies and federal regulations, which have made drugs more available to people. Also, the number of prescriptions being dispensed has grown from 2 billion to 3.2 billion in the last decade.

In Illinois, the state is trying to solve the shortage by opening more pharmacy schools. “I think a lot of new schools coming on board here will help alleviate the problem,” Phil Medon, dean of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Pharmacy, said. “We haven’t had any graduates, yet, but long-term expansion at existing schools—plus new schools—are designed to help alleviate the shortage.”

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MTBC receives Microsoft partner honor

BY Drew Buono

SOMERSET, N.J. MTBC, an information technology company has received the distinguished Gold Certified Partner status in the Microsoft Partner Program. The company focuses on revenue cycle management and electronic medical record solutions.

As a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, MTBC has demonstrated expertise with Microsoft technologies and platforms. MTBC’s IT staff has successfully completed a series of examinations demonstrating the company’s competency and aptitude in utilizing and delivering Microsoft’s advanced technologies. MTBC gains access to a rich set of tools designed to help its physician clients realize improved billing and practice management solutions.

“We are very pleased to have attained Microsoft Gold Certified Partner status,” said David Rosenblum, president of MTBC. “Our Microsoft gold certification further distinguishes us from our competition. It will assist us as continue to leverage technology and deliver Internet-based revenue cycle and practice management services that enable medical providers to streamline and increase collections, while reducing associated costs.”

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