Choosing a prepackaged medication supplier

We frequently receive calls from physicians considering pharmaceutical dispensing.  A common theme among these calls is frustration with what it is often described as "a lack of professionalism and responsiveness" from various companies offering physician dispensing options.  Quite often, websites for groups offering to help implement dispensing systems for physicians are merely fronts for individuals selling part-time with no organization behind them.  I often hear folks say that Northwind Pharmaceuticals was one of the only companies to respond in a timely fashion.  There are a number of things a clinic/physician can do to avoid upfront difficulties:

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.  Look for additional substance on the site geared to helping customers with the dispensing process.

2. Ask the firm if they distribute products form their own facility or just sell for a repackager.  As in any business, if there is a middleman, you are paying more.

3. Verify that they are licensed to distribute in your state. Many state pharmacy boards allow you to verify wholesaler license numbers online.  The DEA also verifies licensure for wholesalers.

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.  Northwind 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.

Medication dispensing offers wonderful possibilities to a clinic and does not have to be rocket science.  Focus on finding a good partner, asking basic questions and getting a "feel" for the company before you buy.  A little diligence goes a long way.  Good luck!

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