Cooper Drug Store Blog
I oftentimes feel that I get caught up in the day-to-day stresses of owning and operating a small independent pharmacy and do not take enough opportunities to thank our employees who make life at Cooper Drug so enjoyable for both me and our customers. I have to admit my expectations of the employees are high. I am always asking of each employee to strive to make themselves better, whether it be technical skills such as operating a register or computer or people skills such as remembering to smile no matter how their day is going. I want to take this opportunity to let the employees at Cooper Drug know how much they are valued.
I am so fortunate to have the privilege to work with such a compassionate, caring group of individuals here at Cooper Drug. Always striving to deliver a positive experience to our customers, I continually witness selfless acts by the staff that exceeds my expectations. Thank you to our front end personnel Sheila, Shelly, Tiffany and Whitney for always greeting our customers with a genuine smile and striving to give our customers a wonderful experience when they walk in the door. To our Drug Bug delivery drivers Claudine and Judy, you always do your job with a positive attitude, no matter what the Kansas weather brings. To our Technicians Tina, Cheryl, Beulah, Drew, Faith, Ashle, and Erica, you are the heart of our team. A technician’s role is very challenging and diverse, and it is evident that every single technician here strives to be the best-version-of-themselves in order to deliver to our customers a positive experience. Pharmacists Rachel, Brett (McNeil), Pat, and Cletus are always so helpful and giving to our customers, going above and beyond to answer any questions and to assure the customers understand how to take their medications. Our pharmacists are also so very diligent in assuring the safety of our customers by checking each and every prescription for accuracy and drug interactions before it goes out the door. And finally to our manager, Carla, you have been nothing less than a blessing to me and the entire staff since your arrival last spring. Your energy and enthusiasm is contagious to us all! You continually strive to make Cooper Drug a special place for both the customer and the employee.
Thank you employees for making Cooper Drug a special place! Next year will mark the 90th anniversary of Cooper Drug opening its doors in downtown Augusta. I think the other two previous owners, my dad Cletus and Mr. Cooper, would agree that the employees are the main reason our doors have been open for so long.
Editor: The recent closing of the Borders bookstore has me wondering what the citizens of Butler County would think if they lost the services of their local pharmacists. The possibility is real. The similarities to what shut down Borders, and the economic pressures facing retail pharmacy, are quite striking, except for one thing: Books are a commodity, drugs purchased at a pharmacy and the services provided by a pharmacist are not.
Those warehouse-like mail order operations are huge profit centers for these companies. Oh sure, they will "allow" local pharmacies to fill your immediate needs like antibiotics and diarrhea medicine. The problem is, neither an independent pharmacy nor any chain pharmacy could stay in business with those few prescriptions. If the mail order pharmacy trends continue unchecked, the days of having a trusted pharmacist to ask if this medication is right for you will come to an end.
What does this do to the local economy? Large companies that depend on local commerce for their very survival seem to have no problem sending millions of their dollars out of state each year for mail order pharmacy services. City, county and state governments do the same thing with your tax dollars being shipped out of state. This makes about as much sense as the unemployed factory worker hoping to get a local manufacturing job spending his unemployment check at Walmart on a kitchen table made in China.
It would be one thing if the drugs purchased via PBM (Pharmacy Benefit Manager)-owned mail order actually reduced or even contained an employer's drug cost, but they don't. Virtually every CEO I have spoken to has not seen their company drug bill decrease — ever — in spite of the fact that more drugs have gone generic in the last five years than ever.
As a pharmacy, we have seen our sales decrease in the past five years due to increased generics available for the same amount and type of prescriptions filled. The problem is the PBMs are retaining those savings at the employer's expense to fatten the bottom line. It's simple: They pay the pharmacy $17 then turn around and bill the employer as much as $217 and keep the difference.
So what can you do to save money and support the local economy? First be sure you have a relationship with your local pharmacist. He knows the most about you and your medication. Second, ask him if the drug (with no generic available) you are spending your $40 mail order co-pay on a three-month supply has a similar generic drug available in a generic. Then fill it at his store.
It may cost you three $10 co-pays to do it, but you are still saving $10, and you are creating local jobs. Don't forget, that mail house didn't try to help you. The local pharmacist took the time. If you send that generic off to be filled by mail, your local pharmacist might not be there next year. Today it is Borders, who will it be tomorrow?
Brett Kappelmann, PharmD.