Bariatric Conference Conversations

I had the opportunity to participate in the American Society of Bariatric Physicians annual conference this past week.  My company, PCA Pharmaceuticals, had a booth at the conference and it offered a great chance to talk to a number of physicians about pharmaceutical dispensing and dispensing software, practice economics, patient strategies and the interesting dynamics involved in the physician-directed weight loss marketplace.  We participated in the show on the recommendation of one of our customers.

I had many interesting conversations throughout my two days at the conference, but I want to mention a specific series of interactions that is very relevant to my posts on differentiation.  One physician stopped by numerous times with questions about medication dispensing, PCA, RxTracker dispensing software and the ultimate question: why should I buy from you?  We had a great dialog.  Each time he came by, he had a new set of questions and I could tell he was getting good information from other vendors.  My last interaction with him was on the elevator and down a hall as he expressed frustration at not being able to see a clear difference between the vendors offering to help him dispense in his clinic.  I realized that he had been gathering the facts and he discovered that the general offering from the competing vendors was pretty much the same: similar products, similar software, similar policies and possibly similar prices (although we didn’t really dive into pricing).  I told him he had done some great diligence on us and suggested there comes a point when he will have to follow his gut and go with “chemistry”.  That is, where he felt the most comfortable.  The relationship will only be forged through the opportunities and challenges that come when working together.  No one can tell him how that will be or quantify it; he will just have to walk the path.  I very much appreciated his feedback and see some things I can improve on my end; however, the “proof is still in the pudding”.  Here are some other thoughts for my diligent physician on things for him to evaluate:

1. Recognize that many websites are posted by brokers who are actually selling products for other suppliers.  These “firms” are often ran part-time by one individual who simply makes commission by marketing others’ products.

2. Ask the firm if they repackage under their own label.  Have them fax you a copy of their label or ask for their FDA manufacturer’s number – it will be the first set of digits on the NDC for their prepackaged pharmaceuticals.

3. Verify that they are licensed to distribute in your state. Many state pharmacy boards allow you to verify wholesaler & manufacturer license numbers online.

4. On their website, look for an indication of how long they’ve been in business. There are a few repackagers that have been around for 20+ years and are proud to say it.  PCA Pharmaceuticals has been around since 1981.

5. When you talk to the supplier, ask them about their business. How do they go about helping their customers? Do they offer software?  How do their labels work?  Do they make recommendations for a start up formulary?  You want to find a supplier that can get you the products you need but will also be a good fit for you and your practice.  Talking to them is the only sure way to make sure there is a fit.

6. What else do they do?  For example: PCA offers a variety of services: warehousing, fulfillment, dispensing software, custom labeling, kitting, medical supplies, injectables etc.  Find out the depth of your prospective supplier to see if there might be additional services that add value to your clinic.

7. Ask them about physician dispensing. How does it normally work? How many clinics do they currently serve? What are their dispensing systems? How many different prepackaged medications do they offer? Do they offer controlled substances?  What makes them different?  Firms like PCA that serve hundreds of pharmaceutical dispensing clinics will have many stories and reference points.

Good luck!  I hope we hear from you 🙂

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