PHARMACY

IPC taps PBM expertise of new leadership

BY Bruce Kneeland

Independent Pharmacy Cooperative
CEO/EVP: Donald Anderson
Corp. Offices: Sun Prairie, Wis.
Number of Members: 3,300
Web page: www.ipcrx.com

With 3,300 members, the Independent Pharmacy Cooperative is the largest of the independent pharmacy organizations. And, early this year, the organization made it clear that it was not ready to rest on its laurels but was seeking to enhance its services and grow even larger by bringing in a new CEO with a long history of success in retail pharmacy. Don Anderson, who joined IPC Jan. 27, spent 30 years at Longs Drug Stores, the West Coast regional chain powerhouse that merged with CVS last year. While at Longs, Anderson was responsible for pharmacy benefit management relations, contract negotiations, central fill operations, call center and e-prescribing initiatives. IPC said it is still too early to reveal future plans, but made it clear that the types of initiatives Anderson made at Longs are high on the priority list for the organization’s future.

A major asset upon which Anderson plans to build is IPC’s distribution center. This modern warehouse shipped nearly $500 million worth of pharmaceuticals, OTC, seasonal and general merchandise items last year. The 75,000-sq.-ft. warehouse is VAWD (Vertical Accredited Wholesale Distribution) and provides e-pedigree documentation. It also supports the IPC Retail Merchandise Advantage program. Each month, this carefully orchestrated ad circular and POP support program makes between 400 and 600 prebooked items available to both IPC members, as well as an additional 3,000 stores that have signed on for these profit-enhancing services.

Organized in 1983, IPC has contracted with McKesson for 25 years, and last year its members purchased a combined $7 billion from the wholesaler. According to IPC, this volume represented 75% of McKesson’s independent pharmacy sales.

The IPC Web site proudly proclaims that, in the first two months of 2009, it has returned more than $28 million in rebates to its members, and, Anderson added, that doesn’t even count what the organization saved its members through its ability to negotiate with vendors for special discounts and price concessions on a wide variety of pharmacy-related products and services.

Anderson pointed out that IPC has capabilities that go far beyond merely “buying better.” The ad program is designed to make sure members are able to attract new customers, and the general merchandise program will help participating drug stores source profitable seasonal and general merchandise lines that bring much-needed profitability to IPC pharmacies.

IPC also operates a vibrant and active government relations program headed by well-known industry veteran Mark Kinney. Kinney coordinates efforts with various national and state associations to help influence public policy, and works to get members to participate in the process. IPC also provides a variety of business operations and benchmarking services, whose goal is to help members operate more efficiently. One of these services allows pharmacies to compare confidential financial and operational data with other IPC members, allowing them to benchmark such line items as sales, labor costs, rent and other operating costs.

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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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