The move towards direct supply is a disaster, says banner group CEO
Steven Kastrinakis is more concerned than most about the move by pharma companies towards direct supply.
As the CEO of an independent banner group Advantage Pharmacy, he's been monitoring the impact on more than 150 dispensaries.
He’s so concerned that other manufacturers will follow AstraZenca, Amgen and Pfizer’s lead that he’s written to Minister for Health Greg Hunt.
He wants the minister to make it compulsory for PBS medicines to be available through CSO wholesalers.
One of the issues he’s raised is the burden of having to deal with separate suppliers.
While the three companies all use DHL, they have different cut-off times and order portals.
“When you look at Amgen, it’s a disaster,” Mr Kastrinakis told Pharmacy News on Wednesday.
“If you are only ordering 1-3 units, you may be charged a $15 delivery fee. There goes your profit.
“Pharmacies don’t have the capacity, in some cases, to order a month’s worth of stock.”
Pharmacies are also losing their next-day and Saturday deliveries.
Next-day order deadlines for direct supply are 2pm-4pm versus 6pm-midnight for wholesalers, Mr Kastrinakis says.
Orders made later on Friday or over the weekend don’t arrive until the following Tuesday.
This means patients who present after school or after work can no longer come back for the medicine the next day.
Smaller pharmacies that can’t afford to carry stock are facing lost business as a result.
Pharmacies are now realising the ease of business that comes with dealing with CSO wholesalers.
“We are very much in the camp of the wholesalers because of the great work that they do,” says Mr Kastrinakis.
“With a large proportion of our membership base being rural, we very much value the cut-off times and the flexibility the wholesalers have been able to provide.”
But Mr Kastrinakis is anticipating wholesalers will be forced to make up their losses when they review terms in April.
And the big concern is that they will be forced to introduce a delivery fee.
Pharmacy News will be inviting the three suppliers to respond to this article.
Read Mr Kastrinakis' opinion piece here