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PRESCRIPTION FOR GROWTH
By teaming with suppliers and utilizing the tools they have to offer, supermarkets can grow their pharmacy business.
BY RICHARD TURCSIK
STAR DISCOUNT PHARMACY is facing a problem that has befallen many super- market pharmacy counters—bleeding customers to the big chain stores at the
behest of the insurance companies.
“We are suffering from people who switch
at the end of the year to certain plans, like a
Humana Plan, where they have to exclusively
use Walmart or CVS and we lose those people,”
says Mark Tow, director of pharmacy, at Star
Discount Pharmacy, a Huntsville, Ala.-based
operator of six pharmacies, including two in
its namesake supermarkets.
But Star has a prescription to fight back.
“Those customers are gone, so we have to
try to get new ones by being friendlier,” Tow
says. “That is the one thing we can do that
doesn’t cost much—just be friendlier and have
faster services and be innovative.”
Star has also reached out to the assisted liv-
ing facilities near its stores. “People living in
nursing homes need local pharmacies to fill
their prescriptions,” Tow says. “We are one of
the very few places where you can get a special
unit-dose type form, we call it level packing.
You can’t get that done at a Walgreens, CVS,
Walmart or via mail order. We check services
that we see as necessary and try to fill a gap.
That is how we get our new patients.”
To speed up wait times and reduce operat-
ing costs Star is employing Arata robots in
“There’s a point in time where you have to