Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Are We a Pharmacy Today or Not?

One of the pharmacies I work at is a small store with a pharmacist-in-charge who is very stingy with inventory. You'd think the purchasing money was coming out of his own pocket. Part of this is probably a personality quirk but I'm sure he gets a pat on the back from the head honchos for keeping inventory costs low.

Of course, he's not there on the days I work, and one of my biggest frustrations right now is not having drugs in stock & having to constantly fill partial prescriptions and 'owe' people the rest. I feel bad enough that I usually offer to mail it to the customer (IF it's an item that can be mailed) --- so, we get hit for mailing costs anyway. Seems it would be cheaper to just have enough in stock. I can almost tell just by looking at a prescription when it's handed in that we're unlikely to have enough (TWO bottles of Peridex??? -- ha, you wish). And yes, we've got the computerized inventory system which is supposed to replace what is used, but when he's got the par levels set ridiculously low it doesn't work so well. Plus, as we all know, you cannot rely on people to call in the day before to order their refills. We lost that battle a long time ago.

People get annoyed when this happens constantly. They're coming in every month for the same damn thing and we're always short. I'm mailing one tablet here and two tablets there. People claim they didn't get the balance of their prescription, or dispute the amount they were owed. What a headache !! Just KEEP SOME DRUGS on the shelf !!!!!!

Oh, and by the way, maybe the 4th or 5th time somebody asks for an OTC product we don't carry, maybe we could, y'know.....CARRY IT. I have no business training at all, but this seems like a swell idea to me.

11 comments:

Grumpy, M.D. said...

That's interesting.

The pharmacy we usually go to for one of my kids pills always seems to need to owe us a few, and I wondered why. I figured it was because it was commonly used, and they were always running out. It never occurred to me that it may be an intentional understock.

Jacqueline said...

I know exactly how you feel! I work with a pharmacist who is the same way with his inventory. Everyone else in the pharmacy thinks we should keep more items in stock, but he's the manager, so nothing ever changes. He's horrible at maintaining work flow too, since he's always meddling in the drug orders and messing with inventory instead of actually checking prescriptions and not letting them pile up. I can't wait until I'm a pharmacist and can run the show myself!

Anonymous said...

Irks me to no end when working with these zero inventory folks. Zero inventory was a new concept in the 70's and it never did sound good then. To have to work with someone like the pharmacy buyer with the 'mother may I... etc' sometimes seems like 'personality quirk gone sour like control issue overboard'. I wonder if these people ever, EVER do the math to figure out whether the mailing costs, and damaged 'goodwill' is worth the loss to outdated inventory.

In the hospital, hospitals invest a lot of money on the Pyxes or Suremeds or other automated dispensing cabinets for which expiry dates, NDC numbers, etc. can be inputted at point of restock to save on monthly inventory, which means that someone somewhere can look at a daily inventory and figure out something about quantities to have on hand ALL the time. Makes me crazy to be the person having to explain to surgery, 'yes, we have no...No, we don't have it today...' 'Yep, I know you'd been planning this surgery for a week, now, but nope...' 'Let me see if I can get it across town for you.'

The Redheaded Pharmacist said...

That is funny because I am complaining about the same thing today! And what really bothers me is when we don't have something in stock that costs next to nothing anyway! Why not stock a few bottles of a common drug that costs less than a couple of bucks per bottle to order? It isn't going to break the bank!

Pharmd Biker said...

nothing you can do to change his mind there. i worked with an old-timer (used to own his own till he got nipped for naughty things) that ordered old school via catalog. instead of checking online to see the status of the drug, he would start with the first ndc and each day order the next one until it came in the delivery. one day we received at least 9 bottles of the same drug, all different package sizes- 30, 60, 100, even 1 or 2 500 count bottles.

One thing you could try is ask each customer to fill out a 3-5 questionnaire while they wait for their pickup. questions should be service related, and have one about shorting and having to come back.

when i sub in retail pharmacies, i really dislike partial filling. makes us seem like we do not know what we are doing.

Anonymous said...

It is a game you just are forced to play with some products. As someone who's pocket it does come out of, when common prescription calls for 30-60-90 days supply and the companies choose to sell in 100's its very difficult to weigh need with money. When a new drug comes out for 400-500 dollars per 100. And Doc sends in a guy for 30 pills. I have to spend 500 dollars and get paid only 150 and hope that he continues to get it refilled. Even if he does the lowest common denominator of 30 and 100 is 300, so I have to spend 1500 dollars before every pill I have in stock has been paid for and I can make a profit. Sometimes you just can't afford to by a new bottle when you are down to 10pills, you just have to owe someone to stay afloat.

Phathead said...

I've become the inventory Nazi at two of our stores recently.

Part of the problem is with our robots. Generally they hold 190 drugs, about 50 of which are name brand drugs.

I have no qualms about having 4,000 HCTZ 25mg on hand. I do have a problem with there being a 2 month supply of Seroquel 300mg in the robot which are something like $12/tablet.

If it's cheap I try to keep at least 3 weeks worth of inventory on hand. I have devised a formula using max daily usage, avg usage, etc to figure out time frames. For name brand drugs, especially ones in the robot, I try to keep a 10 day inventory.

Do we have to short people sometime? Sure we do. But I won't be the one sitting on thousands of dollars of Cozaar when it goes generic this month.

pharmacy chick said...

I can appreciate what you say, we try to utilize the auto replenishment system as its designed but it still seems to under order occasionally. THAT being said, customers DO have to learn to call in refills..we are doing everything we can to practially force people to prepare and call in advance. Our company made us cut our inventory by 50k last year.

Guzzo said...

"I can't wait until I'm a pharmacist and can run the show myself!"

Good April Fool's joke Jacqueline.

Pharmacy school admissions said...

It's annoying when our store had to owe people pills. We had one incidence where the chain store in another store owe a patient some pills but wrote the amount owed as greater than the difference dispensed and the amount called for. of course, they didn't pick up the phone.

Amy said...

AMEN! I know exactly what you mean. You totally understand why it hacks the customers off, especially when it's something the they have filled every month for over a year...it would hack anyone off! So frustrating...