Clinic Dispensing, Doctor Dispensing, Physician Dispensing

Thinking of Dispensing from Your Clinic? Part I

Every day, we receive requests for information from doctors across the country considering a medication dispensing program in their clinic.  The questions vary but the goal is the same: How do I better serve my patients while increasing the bottom line of my practice? There are a number of considerations for any practice evaluating office medication dispensing but it does not have to be a complicated process.

Legal Considerations for Physician Dispensing

  • Most states allow physician dispensing but a few have limitations.  Check with your Board of Pharmacy or Medical licensing to determine if your state has specific regulations.  Who can handle the medicine, record keeping and reporting are just a few of the possible requirements in your state.
  • Many states have separate requirements for controlled substances. Some even regulate controlled substances from different agencies.  Be sure to look closely to make sure you aren’t missing something specific to your state.

Financial Considerations for Physician Dispensing

  • How profitable is medical dispensing? This very common question is a variety of responses.  Many clinics earn 80% gross margins on medications and are still able to be very competitive with the local pharmacy.  However, the low overall cost of generic pharmaceuticals requires a sizeable volume to make an impact.  Fifteen to twenty daily dispenses per physician is not unheard of but the doctor must be prepared to offer the option to patients.  It doesn’t happen automatically.
  • Most distributors do not require a minimum order or contract.  However, the clinic will likely spend several thousand dollars on an initial inventory.  With the right items, this cost can be recouped in 1-2 months.  The physician must be realistic about what will be required in the clinic – look carefully at your prescribing mix and focus on the most frequently prescribed medications.

I will talk about several other considerations in my next post.

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