We are really feeling the heat of July!  It seems that with the high temperatures comes some introspection with regard to clinic operations.  We’ve seen a significant increase in calls from dispensing clinics unhappy with their current supplier and wanting to explore new options for sourcing their prepackaged medications.  Here are a few of the common complaints:

  1. Long waits for reorders.  Most clinics do not have large spaces to store pharmaceuticals so timeliness of receiving orders is critical to having what you need for your patients.  Because there are many factors applying pressure on the pharmaceutical supply-chain, it isn’t always your suppliers fault.  However, consistent issues across multiple products might indicate an issue with your supplier.
  2. Inflexibility.  This is one of the soft items that falls into the “eye of the beholder” category.  Labeling, shipping, pill count and a host of other options fall under the “flexibility” banner.  As more repackagers consolidate and become bigger, flexibility tends to decrease.  Large business models are dependent on static processes and have more difficulty maintaining profit margins when trying to be flexible.  Flexibility can also be an issue when you are dealing with a middleman – an agent who is representing a supplier and often unable to affect change up the chain.
  3. Product Availability.  Clinic dispensing is based on having the right product at the right price to give to the patient at the right time.  Many suppliers are having trouble maintaining stock of certain medications.  Pharmaceuticals for pain management are a challenge right now because of DEA pressure in the market and many suppliers are choosing not to distribute weight management products.  Add quotas imposed by large wholesalers and manufacturers plus the cost of maintaining a large inventory of prepackaged products and you end up with a more limited availability of certain products.  Be sure to ask your supplier about their approach to inventory management and product mix.
  4. Responsiveness.  Believe it or not, one of the most common complaints is that their pharma supplier is unresponsive.  You offer medication dispensing because you are seeking to offer an enhanced service to your patients – you recognize that service is a differentiator and important to the success of your practice.  Expecting the same from your pharma distributor is not unreasonable.  As companies get bigger, your importance to them decreases – especially if you aren’t a large buyer.  Add on the fact that pricing a list of 30 medications takes a lot of time and you end up with responsiveness issues.  It takes work to take care of a customer and some people just don’t want to put that much effort into it. The great news about this particular issue is that it tends to reveal itself in the courting phase; if your prospective supplier is to slow to follow up when they are trying to earn your business, how will they be after you’ve become a customer?  Hint: it generally does not improve 🙂

Ok, ok!  Enough negative energy.  The good news is that there are organizations out there who really want your business!  For my part, I love the issues above because they make my company look great!  Regardless of your size, you deserve great service and a company that truly values your business.  For some ideas on selecting a supplier, check out this post:  Choosing a prepackaged medication supplier – 2012

Stay cool!

Schedule a free claims analysis now.

Let’s Talk now


Betsy Bigler | Mar 7th, 2024
INDIANAPOLIS, March 7, 2024 – Northwind has announced the addition of Tony Purkey as Senior Vice President, Client Strategies. “Demand from our self-funded employer and union clients is driving rapid growth,” said Phillip Berry, CEO. “Tony Purkey joins Northwind at a time when we need high-integrity leaders with expert knowledge in employer-sponsored health and the … more »

continue reading

Voices Lost in the Noise

Phillip Berry | Jan 31st, 2024
In the health benefits world, the mad scramble toward January renewals/starts has subsided and attention has turned to the annual cycle of review necessary to gauge progress. How did we do? The plan review process generally centers on analytics to gauge progress or regress and to identify “areas of opportunity.” Good. The right data with … more »

continue reading