Sunday, January 17, 2010

Long break...

Well happy 2010 world.

I took some vacation time. And since you were staring, tapping your fingers, and pacing back and forth, I decided to take a little longer than necessary. ;)

So, what have I been up to? Well, I'm still thinking about, thinking about, opening my own pharmacy. Being a pharmacist and never taking a business course ever in my life, not even in high school way back, learning how to go about starting a business has! So it may take me longer to understand concepts or terms that come second nature to many business-types. But I've read a couple books on business plans, which inevitably lead me to the internet to search out definitions and further explanations of terms and concepts. Did you know that pro forma means "completely made up"? Why can't they just call it a "made up financial statement" instead of a pro forma? That would be way easier for the average person to understand.

One of the main problems I foresee in this potential venture is the future of pharmacy in Ontario. The government in the past couple years has decided to make the drug rebate side of the business "transparent". So by doing this, they also thought it wouldn't look so good if the transparency showed that pharmacies are getting 60% now pharmacies can only get 20% on drugs purchased for publicly funded people (seniors and welfare). In some cases, the reimbursement for some drugs was less, yes less, than the actual acquisition cost. WTF? This left the field wide open for the brand name that's how pharmacies have been making it up over the past couple years. Now, they're discussing capping the brand name rebates to 20% or something also! What does this mean? It means the future of pharmacy as we know it in Ontario is in jeopardy. It means only the big box stores who buy in large enough volume to make a 20% rebate worth it, and who have a large enough front shop to supplement their sales with high-end cosmetics, will survive. It's almost like the government is angry with pharmacists for making a living over the last 40 years.

The problem I see, is that dispensing fees have been the "transparent" side of how pharmacists make money. The average consumer hates the dispensing fee and thinks a $9.99 fee or (gasp) $10.99 is absurd! The reason these fees haven't gone up over the past couple decades? You got it, cus pharmacies were making money in rebates and didn't bother passing on the inflation in the cost of dispensing to the customer in the form of a fee. What happens next? Well, if you raise your fee, you upset your customers and eventually lose business. If you don't, you'll eventually go broke anyway.

So, the state of pharmacy affairs in Ontario is uncertain and grim. Do I start a pharmacy or not?
Do I risk everything I have to start something I've been dreaming about for years with a 50:50 chance of making it. And even if I "make it" will it be "worth it". I mean, I love being a pharmacist, but let's be serious, this venture would be a business decision. Is it worth it?

Who knows. 2010 just got underway. I've got a feeling this year will be a tough one, but a memorable one.

So happy 2010 world.


  1. Good luck if you go it alone. It's tough. Retail of all kinds is a scary business. I couldn't do it myself.