Retail pharmacies continue to hold sway when it comes to prescription medications, despite stiff competition in the form of fast contactless delivery, 24/7 phone and text support, and user-friendly mobile apps and platforms from mail-order and digital pharmacies.

However, the gap is closing fast, as the traditional pharmacy model is ripe for disruption. As a result, it is critical for healthcare sales professionals to understand the sector thoroughly to develop strong relationships with their pharmacy customers and help them manage cost efficiencies and meet their business goals.

We have introduced a new eLearning module – Selling to a Retail Pharmacy – that can be a part of a pharmaceutical sales rep training program. Sales professionals will learn about the retail pharmacy environment, their primary activities, the challenges they face, and strategies to improve performance. They will also learn about the importance of patient counseling to payers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmacies, and patients. Additionally, learners will understand ways in which pharmaceutical manufacturers can support retail pharmacy efficiency and profitability.

Chat with a CMR training expert to learn more about this module.

Challenges Facing Retail Pharmacies

  • Profit margins: Generic drugs offer a lower profit margin to retail pharmacies upstream, compared to branded drugs, which usually provide a higher profit margin. While downstream, their profits can be marred by PBM reimbursement issues.
  • Competition: Stiff competition from mail-order or digital pharmacies also has a major impact on retail pharmacy prices. For instance, chain drugstores and pharmacies located inside mass merchandisers and supermarkets can attract more customers solely because of their location and resulting footfalls. The increased prescription volume also means they have more opportunity for negotiations and reimbursements.
  • Labor: Retail pharmacies are also facing labor challenges due to the increasing cost of generalists as well as specialized labor. With fewer resources, pharmacies are struggling to minimize waiting times and accelerate the pace of filling prescriptions.
  • Discount cards: Customers with high-deductible health insurance plans are increasingly using discount pharmacy cards to avoid paying more out-of-pocket expenses. This puts pharmacies in a difficult situation as they have to strike a balance between offering great customer service and maintaining their profit margins.
  • PBMs: The direct/indirect remuneration (DIR) fees that PBMs collect from retail pharmacies after the point of sale creates several issues for pharmacies as they must meet often vague criteria set by these PBMs.

Strategies to Improve Retail Pharmacy Performance

Retail pharmacies are already adopting some strategies to improve their performance, such as offering 90-day drug supplies and mail prescriptions, expanded services like genomic or lab testing, new product areas (e.g., CBD-based products), and expanded markets. They are also leveraging technology, such as automated voice messaging to confirm automatic refills, to systems that automate the physical steps in the dispensing process.

Healthcare sales professionals can help retail pharmacies address some of these challenges. Some elements can include:

  • Educational materials to improve patients’ understanding of their conditions and the importance of medication therapy adherence.
  • Training to improve the knowledge and skills of pharmacy staff, so that pharmacists and technicians have the latest information about disease states, therapies, and strategies to improve patient experiences with products.
  • Training to ensure pharmacy staff is aware of patient financial assistance programs and educating them about how to use these programs.
  • Reimbursement specialists who can help get patients enrolled in these programs.

Pharmaceutical sales representatives serve as the link between their companies’ resources and their customers’ needs. This CMR eLearning module will equip sales professionals with the conditions in which pharmacies operate, their challenges, and ways to help support retail Pharmacies as they support patients.

Do you want to learn more about Selling to a Retail Pharmacy? Chat with our training expert.

Learn More About Off-The-Shelf Content

CMR Institute always remains vigilant to the changes in this complex healthcare marketplace. Our commitment to our clients and learners is to quickly make appropriate updates to our content, whether within our regular review process or driven by a market shift that needs to be addressed immediately.

Our library is continually updated to reflect the latest developments impacting life sciences professionals, helping to advance knowledge, drive performance, and improve healthcare.

To learn more about these updates or our services, please reach out to us below, to find out how you can use these and many other customizable off-the-shelf training resources to create custom and effective training pathways for your teams. Our innovative and completely customizable learning pathways empower teams to become their very best.

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