Q&A: VMC Pharmacy’s Salus on how program strengthens independents
As the pharmacy arm of Valu Merchandisers, the VMC Pharmacy Program and Buying Group is a member-owned cooperative created to promote the interests of independent and smaller-store pharmacy chains. It currently serves more than 450 pharmacies in 20 states. Drug Store News caught up with Adam Salus, the organization’s pharmacy operations manager, to talk about how members benefit from their involvement.
Drug Store News: Please tell us about the VMC Pharmacy Program and Buying Group.
Adam Salus: The VMC Pharmacy Program and Buying Group is a retailer focused and high performing member-owned independent pharmacy program offering the tools needed to help pharmacies be successful. Our program enables member pharmacies to improve their positions in a competitive marketplace with an extensive offering of exceptional services, comprehensive programs and the lowest cost of goods.
DSN: What differentiates your company from your competitors?
AS: With over 90 years of experience in retail, community, hospital, long-term care and mail order pharmacy, our team members know the pharmacy business. The success of our program comes in making independent pharmacies competitive and looking out for our retailers’ best interests.
DSN: How do you help independent pharmacies and smaller grocery store pharmacy chains?
AS: Independent pharmacies and independent grocery store pharmacies are still the backbone of the pharmacy industry. They are community pharmacies that consumers turn to for their prescription and health needs. Over time, we hear more and more about how pharmacy benefit managers are undercutting reimbursements and restricting access to specific large chain pharmacies. Our program offers independents ways to improve their profits utilizing the lowest cost of goods, additional revenue streams, and learning opportunities to help fight these challenges.
DSN: How do you ensure the lowest cost of goods?
AS: AWG leverages its buying power through partnering with other companies and co-ops. This allows us to provide the lowest cost of goods overall in the market today amongst buying groups.
DSN: Can you talk about the additional programs and services you offer?
AS: Through VMC and our partners, our program members have access to over 40 preferred vendor programs, and that number keeps growing. This offers a lower cost on the valuable services and savings that go right to the bottom line. From switch services, supplies, continuing education and training platforms to secondary wholesalers, Drug Supply Chain Security Act, reconciliation vendors and Pharmacy Service Administration Organization, our preferred vendor list covers almost every service an independent pharmacy needs.
DSN: How are you helping retailers/pharmacies amid the pandemic?
AS: 2020 has been a challenging time for everyone. Independent pharmacies are no exception. The VMC Pharmacy Program has been providing weekly updates to all members from a variety of sources, including the American, state pharmacy associations and NACDS. In addition, 15 current member pharmacies have partnered up with eTrueNorth for drive-thru COVID-19 testing in their communities. Another eight pharmacies have signed up to provide the drive-up COVID-19 testing services beginning in mid-September. It is also more important than ever for the public to receive their flu vaccine this year. VMC Pharmacy Program members are already actively providing regular dose, high dose and Flublok doses to their communities.