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Three reasons you can do better than your primary wholesaler

Written by Nicolette Mathey, PharmD

On February 27, 2020

For business-owning independent pharmacists, the number of decisions you’re forced to make on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis can seem overwhelming. At the heart of the business, and perhaps the decision that makes or breaks any independent pharmacy is choosing a wholesaler. Primary wholesalers (we all know the names of the “Big Three”) have long been the conventional pick for distribution, but other options do exist.

Secondary wholesalers can offer some of the flexibility that is lacking in relationships with primaries. These contracts usually involve an assortment of guidelines that must be followed to remain in good standing and obtain your advertised rebates, and the primary wholesaler pricing models often leave little room for profit. So, why don’t more independent pharmacies utilize secondary wholesalers? Sometimes it’s just because they simply aren’t aware of the benefits — that’s why we’ve put together three quick reasons to consider a secondary wholesaler if you’re feeling handcuffed by your primary.

 

They’re easy to do business with Easy to do business

As an independent pharmacist, you may have received a phone call or two from a secondary wholesaler. While some might consider this bothersome or annoying, others recognize the call for what it is: A direct product source reaching out to see how they can help the business. One of the things that make secondary wholesalers so easy to work with is that they don’t have the same restrictions in place that a primary does.

For instance, there are no minimum orders. Instead of purchasing an unnecessarily large supply of a seasonally relevant drug that will sit on your shelf for months, you could buy a limited stock of the drug from a secondary and avoid an excessive purchase.

Generous payment termsgenerous payment terms

The cash flow crunch is real! One of the biggest advantages that a secondary wholesaler can offer an independent pharmacy is transparency. Unlike primaries, which bake the cost of drugs into rebate programs to make pricing seem more attractive, secondaries don’t utilize rebate structures. That means you know what you’re paying upfront and without any cloak of secrecy. Per-shipment pricing can also be significantly less than what the primary is offering.

Additionally, secondaries may have established programs that enable the pharmacy to receive payment for the drug before you even pay for it. For cash-strapped businesses, this type of arrangement can be incredibly beneficial.

Access to the type of product your business needs Access to new to market drugs

Flexibility with a secondary wholesaler goes beyond just the terms they offer. Having access to maintenance medications with no rebate ties, as well as controlled substances  — plus, new-to-market medications — can help your pharmacy gain access to these critical products at greater upfront savings than what is typically available through a primary wholesaler. These medications allow your pharmacy to differentiate itself from the chains and truly carve out your niche.

We are obviously big fans of secondary wholesalers, which is why we’ve partnered with Mockingbird Pharma, one of the most reputable and customer-centric secondaries you’ll find in the industry. If you have any questions about the secondary wholesaler market or just want to learn more about our work with Mockingbird Pharma, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Nicolette Mathey, PharmD, leads Atrium24, a firm that provides consultative services for independent pharmacies including turnkey clinical program guides, marketing materials, and training resources. Dr. Mathey has worked in pharmacy for 19 years. She was a pharmacist for CVS for 11 years, provided business consulting for five years and owns Palm Harbor Pharmacy in Florida.

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