Have you noticed the recent wave of pharmacy acquisitions in your neighborhood lately? Chances are, the small mom-and-pop pharmacy you’ve been going to for years is now owned by one of the big chains. It’s no coincidence. There are several factors driving major pharma players to snap up independent pharmacies at a rapid clip. For you as a customer, these acquisitions can be a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, bigger companies have more buying power to keep drug prices in check. At the same time, there’s something to be said for the personal touch of a locally-owned pharmacy. As pharmacy acquisitions continue at a record pace, it’s important to understand why this trend is happening and how it impacts your healthcare experience.
Strategic Benefits of Pharmacy Acquisitions
The pharmacy industry has seen massive consolidation recently, with independent pharmacies being acquired by large chains at an unprecedented rate. There are a few factors driving this trend.
First, there’s increased competition from big box retailers and online pharmacies. Mom and pop shops simply can’t compete with the buying power and convenience of companies like CVS, Walgreens, and Amazon. Acquisition by a larger chain is often the only way for independent pharmacies to survive.
There’s also a shortage of pharmacists, which disproportionately impacts smaller operations. Large chains have recruiting advantages and can offer higher pay and better benefits to attract and retain talent. Independent owners may find it difficult to staff their pharmacy adequately. Selling to a chain solves this problem.
Finally, healthcare reforms have reduced profit margins for pharmacies. Reforms aimed at lowering drug costs and increasing access to insurance have unintentionally put the squeeze on independent pharmacies. Larger companies are better equipped to operate on slimmer margins. For independents, acquisition may be the best path to long-term viability.
While consumers may lament the loss of their local independent pharmacy, industry trends make acquisitions inevitable and even necessary. However, chains that acquire independent pharmacies would be wise to maintain their community roots to keep loyal customers happy. Competitive, staffing, and regulatory challenges may drive consolidation, but customer experience is still king.
Financial Benefits of Pharmacy Acquisitions
Acquiring an independent pharmacy can be a smart strategic move for a retail chain.
For one, it expands your geographic reach. You can gain access to new communities and tap into their local customer base. This is especially useful if there are few or no locations of your chain currently serving that area.
It also diversifies your business. An independent pharmacy may focus on certain types of patients, like those with complex health needs requiring extra services. Acquiring that pharmacy allows you to strengthen your ability to serve those patients, which can set you apart from competitors.
In addition, you gain valuable assets. From the building and land to equipment, inventory, and client lists, an acquisition provides physical and intellectual resources that would take time and money to build from scratch.
Of course, the biggest benefit is gaining experienced staff. Long-time pharmacists and technicians at an independent pharmacy have established relationships with patients and doctors. Retaining them helps ensure continuity of care and community trust in the new ownership. Their knowledge and expertise also benefits your entire pharmacy network.
While risky, the rewards of strategic pharmacy acquisitions are substantial. For forward-looking chains, acquiring choice independents may be the smartest way to expand into new markets, reach more patients, and build a sustainable competitive advantage. The key is finding the right pharmacies that share your vision and values. Do that, and it’s a win-win for everyone involved, especially the customers you both serve.