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Duane Reade sticks to the ‘script’ to recharge Rx

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK —Duane Reade’s new mantra—“New York living made easy”—isn’t just about being a destination point for convenience items; it is also about making life easy for pharmacy patients and improving the health of New Yorkers.

“When we took a look at our pharmacy, we said, ‘How are we going to make New York living easier for New Yorkers in our pharmacy department?’” Frank Scorpiniti, SVP pharmacy operations, told Drug Store News.

Scorpiniti, a former Longs Drug Store executive, joined Duane Reade in December.

Now that John Lederer, chairman and CEO, has assembled his management team, the industry veterans have hit the ground running to not only improve the box and enhance the customer experience, but to also boost pharmacy.

Since joining the company, Scorpiniti has decided to close the chain’s central fill operation, which had been a part of the business for a number of years. His decision not only resulted in a cost reduction for the company but also better in-stocks for stores and less wait time for pharmacy customers.

In early June, the company shuttered its two Diabetes Resource Centers located in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and has refocused that diabetes knowledge across all of its pharmacy locations.

These one-stop shops, which debuted in Manhattan in early February 2007, offered a full range of services and educational training to help promote long-term good health. The program was managed and taught by licensed pharmacists and certified diabetes educators, and consisted of educational classes, scheduled appointments and walk-in services.

“The Diabetes Resource Center was certainly a good program for us, but we decided to discontinue that and invest our efforts into making the overall pharmacy experience across our network of stores better. The pharmacists today are so well-versed in diabetes care that we felt it would make a lot of sense that that knowledge was in the 250 stores that interact with our patients on a day-to-day basis,” Scorpiniti said.

Retail-based clinics continue to be an important healthcare offering and, within the next few months, the company will be opening up two new clinics—one in Midtown East and one in the new Herald Square store—bringing the number of facilities in operation to four. Duane Reade is teamed up with Consumer Health Services to offer the physician-staffed clinics, dubbed DR Walk-in Medical Care.

The company also is reorganizing the management team within its pharmacy operation and is building a field management team that gives pharmacy district managers oversight over fewer stores.

“That is the key—that we are going to narrow the scope of their oversight so they can focus on customer satisfaction, hiring and retaining the best pharmacists in New York to serve our customers, and training our pharmacists on the new technology we are rolling out in our stores,” said Scorpiniti.

The new technology includes a new pharmacy phone system that will be rolled out by year-end to enhance patient and physician interaction with pharmacists, a new automatic refill program and a new pharmacy system. Scorpiniti said it is still evaluating pharmacy systems and will “soon” make a decision.

To help better serve those patients who have trouble communicating in English, the company introduced several months ago a telephone-like system that connects pharmacy patients with a translator to translate up to 170 different languages. Meanwhile, a software solution can translate prescription labels in up to 14 different languages.

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Washington, Mo., considers repealing recently passed PSE legislation

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK The objective here is closing down clandestine methamphetamine labs. The question is: Who is going to bear the cost? And the answer, ultimately, is the consumer.

It seems that one of the primary reasons behind legislation like this, which is also under consideration by the California state legislature as well as several local municipalities throughout Missouri, is cost shifting.

Indeed, one solution that would prevent the practice of “smurfing,” a practice whereby meth addicts exceed their legal purchase limits in pseudoephedrine products by buying across several nearby pharmacies, is electronic logbooking. By granting access to PSE logbooks to law enforcement in real time, law enforcement officers would not only be made aware of a “smurfer” as they were driving between pharmacies, but would also identify who that smurfer was and where they lived.

Setting up that comprehensive electronic logbooking system requires resources, however. State coffers have traditionally been tapped for that purpose, and at least in the case of California, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association has offered to help defray that cost. In the case of Missouri, more than $500,000 has already been earmarked for the implementation of an electronic logbooking system at the state level.

However,  a not-as-much-talked-about cost is also borne by law enforcement, as pointed out by Franklin County Sgt. Jason Grellner in Missouri. After all, it requires additional resources to actually apprehend and prosecute those criminals, he suggested. And a system that better defines who those criminals may be, by his estimation, could cost the state as much as $350,000 per criminal per year.

Therefore, Grellner argues, it’s a fiscal responsibility to take PSE off the OTC market altogether, and require a prescription for the popular decongestant.

That, in a nutshell, is cost-shifting. Because reverse switching PSE translates into less revenue for retailers (and consequently less taxable revenue, as well) for those consumers who choose to forego PSE-provided relief, and for those who don’t, it’s a greater healthcare cost because now consumers have to schedule an appointment with their primary care practitioner and pay the co-pay for that doctor’s visit on top of the cost of the PSE product.

Regardless of how the consumer ultimately pays for the elimination of meth labs — whether through increased taxes to cover escalating law enforcement budgets or through increased personal healthcare costs — there is another argument to be made here. Switching PSE to prescription-only status may result in fewer meth labs busted, but it’s not going to do anything about those meth addicts still on the street. Necessity is the mother of invention, and for addicts, that simply means sourcing their meth from somewhere else.

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