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ideaShare draws best, brightest of independent pharmacy owners

BY Jim Frederick

LAS VEGAS — Owning and operating a community pharmacy has never been the easiest way to prosper in the healthcare field. But in the face of unrelenting reimbursement challenges, big-chain competition and the pressures imposed by powerful pharmacy benefit managers that dictate take-it-or-leave-it contracts covering the majority of patients and prescriptions, it’s a safe bet that the vast majority of independent and small-chain pharmacy owner/operators wouldn’t trade places with any other health professional.

 

That goes double for the thousands of independent pharmacists packing the Venetian Hotel’s conference center here for McKesson’s ideaShare 2012 event.

“I love independent pharmacy,” asserted Jonathan Marquess, an attendee and Health Mart franchisee who owns and operates four McKesson-supported pharmacies in suburban Atlanta. “It’s been very successful for me, and it’s provided for my family. I wouldn’t do it any other way.”

Marquess and other attendees represent the cream of the crop of independent pharmacists – among the most motivated, the most innovative and the most passionate in their commitment to patient well-being and their concern for the future of the pharmacy profession. They’ve come to Las Vegas to express that concern, to share best practices with their peers, and to learn how best to confront the myriad of challenges posed by tight-fisted third-party payers, shrinking government expenditures for Medicare and Medicaid, and a healthcare system under severe duress and in desperate need of new solutions to patient access and affordability.

McKesson’s annual gathering of pharmacy owner/operators offers a rare chance to do all that, say attendees and panelists. “McKesson gives us so many opportunities … to do a lot of good business with our colleagues here,” noted Christine Jacobson, owner of Wasatch Pharmacy Care in Ogden, Utah.

Attendees also are looking to McKesson for answers. The event doesn’t let them down: ideaShare 2012 features dozens of expert-led sessions, including Continuing Education courses, a Public Policy Forum and an Ownership Transfer Luncheon, along with the Health Mart annual meeting. Also on tap: targeted interactive seminars to help pharmacies increase efficiency and profitability, with special emphasis on clinical services, reimbursement, front-end solutions, marketing, technology and pharmacy operations.

To Larry Hadley, co-owner of Wayne’s Pharmacy in Frankfort, Ky., ideaShare provides “the opportunity to see all the latest technology, solutions and tools that [McKesson] has, which will help me be more effective and more efficient in running my business.”

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Interesting snippets and products from the last Marketplace show — ever

BY Michael Johnsen

DENVER — This will be the last time I walk an NACDS Marketplace floor. Ever. I’m done.

Because next year, it will be the Total Store Expo, and I’m already getting a little jazzed about that. Here’s my thought process — is there an opportunity in sitting down with a retail pharmacy operation team along with an OTC buying team and exploring possible synergies between the two? Is there a value-add already built into this meeting?

I’ve been talking to quite a few of you on the supplier side. Some of you thought along the same lines (Can it happen?) and some of you perked up to the inherent potential (Will it happen?). And yes, some of you even expressed doubts (Should it happen?).

But I think it should happen. If for nothing else, to raise awareness across pharmacy operations around the full breadth of product offerings available just in front of the pharmacy counter. And with this meeting happening on an annual basis, it also will be an opportunity to inform the pharmacy operations teams on new product launches and line extensions even as they are being sold into the stores.

But I think more would come out of these meetings if the pharmacy and OTC teams sat at the same table, and I think it coincides with the direction that many pharmacy operators already are beginning to take in providing more services and information touch points in front of the pharmacy bench — you know, where the patient lives.

That’s a year away, yet. For now, let me share some snippets around some of the products and suppliers I found interesting making my last walkthroughs on the Marketplace show floor. Ever.

TheraPearl launched a licensed line of its hot and cold packs bearing the NFL Player’s Association seal. This is unique — it will be the only product in the healthcare space that can place the NFLPA symbol on its packaging.

A new company, Cancer in Plain English, featured an audio CD for newly diagnosed cancer patients. The audio was put together by an oncologist — and founder of the company — and provides cancer-specific information to patients in search of answers. Beyond CD sales, I think that could serve as an entry point into the pharmacist as that newly diagnosed cancer patient’s healthcare advocate.

Another new company, UrgentRx, fielded a whole line of flavored OTC remedies in powder formulation. The remedies represent a convenience proposition with only one dose per packet — which is flat — and a value proposition at only $1.39 suggested retail price, as compared with other single-dose OTC remedies.

Great idea for the convenience channel right? Except that’s not how they’re going to market. For example, they have an emergency aspirin dose (325 mg) that’s being carried by emergency medical technicians in 31 states. Beyond the checkstand, it may be a good proposition in sporting goods departments, too.

And Tattoo Goo, over at the Greenwood Group booth, looked interesting, too. It’s an after-care line of products for someone who just got a tattoo. And considering that tattoos today are not as taboo as they once were, this represents an incremental opportunity and a steady trip driver as one of the products is indicated to maintain the color of a tattoo if used regularly. And it sounds like it’s going into first aid sets, which makes a lot of sense. Today, tattoo artists recommend their clients apply a healthy dose of A & D ointment to their new tattoos.

There’s plenty of additional interesting products out there, I’m sure. Any thoughts or comments around the products I identified or around Total Expo meeting synergies, please drop me a line at mjohnsen@lf.com!

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mfagnano@lf.com says:
Jun-27-2012 07:58 pm

Agreed! UrgentRx really made a statement at Marketplace and showed what innovation is all about. Great branding, great product.

D.BIERNBAUM says:
Jun-26-2012 10:27 am

Congratulations to Jordan Eisenberg and his team at Urgent Rx, an exciting new brand that I had the pleasure of consulting last year. This is a winner! www.biernbaum.com

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Beauty is increasingly about value

BY Antoinette Alexander

DENVER — Another NACDS Marketplace is nearing an end, and as I think about all of the beauty products I’ve seen this year on the show floor, I come away with this thought: Beauty is not just about making women (and men), well, beautiful. But it is increasingly about providing consumers with solutions that will save them time and money, and, perhaps even more importantly, provide value.

Now, I know that I’m not necessarily breaking new ground or telling you something you probably haven’t already heard, but that is my key takeaway as I get ready to board a plane to New York and reflect on my time spent in Denver.

For example, manufacturers increasingly are jumping aboard the at-home gel manicure bandwagon, offering women an at-home solution at a fraction of the cost. Some manufacturers prominently displayed their launches at the show, while others whispered plans of soon coming to market with their own variations.

And what about BB creams? As previously reported, these relatively new, multifunctional products — also referred to as “blemish balms” or “beauty balms” — combine the functionality of primers, SPF and moisturizers with the anti-aging benefits of skin serums.

Then there are such products as Razor Shield, which is designed to extend the life of any razor blade up to four times. That could save a pretty penny, when you think about, because razor blades can get quite costly.

Those manufacturers who are bringing to market products that save consumers time and provide value are on target, as evidenced by the data from SymphonyIRI Group. During Monday morning’s presentation, “Inside the Mind of the Shopper: Understanding the Difference in Motivation by Generations,” Navin Gautam, principal of client services for SymphonyIRI Group, stressed the importance of “delivering truly shopper-centric value.” He also noted that 35% of shoppers reported turning to at-home beauty treatments to curb costs.

Gautam also said that 75% of shoppers described themselves as either “deal hunters” or “budget shoppers.”

And brand loyalty? Well, only about 4% are brand loyalists, Gautam said. That’s not a lot.

So, the bottom line is that there are new value-conscious consumers out there walking the beauty aisles, and those products that deliver value, help them save money and make their lives just a little bit easier stand to win big.

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