When starting a pharmacy, there’s is so much that has to be done before you can ever open your doors.
The pharmacy industry is governed by state and federal regulations that are in place to provide safety and accountability for all involved. You must be compliant with all regulations on top of getting your business up and running before your grand opening. It’s an enormous task.
To help you get started, we’ve come up with 10 things you absolutely, positively must do before opening a new pharmacy.
- Find and invest in a location
This is possibly the most important thing you have to do before opening your pharmacy. You will need this address to apply for many of the numbers required to operate your business. Whether you lease, buy, or build you need a location to operate from and for your patients to come to.
- Apply for a license with your state’s board of pharmacy
While you may already have your pharmacist license, you will also need to obtain a facility license for your pharmacy. This process will vary based on your state, but it’s likely that you will have to provide your proof of purchase or lease of your location, the type of business (LLC or Corporation), and the type of ownership (sole or partnership). To find out all that you will need to have to apply for a facility license, we recommend visiting the website of your state board.
- Obtain a DEA number
This is the number assigned to health care providers by the Drug Enforcement Administration that allows you to dispense controlled substances. In today’s pharmacy industry, this is pretty much required if you want to be competitive. This process is pretty similar across the board - they need personal information, business activity, your state license, background information, and of course payment.
- Obtain NPI number
This number is a ten-digit number used to identify health care providers. If you want to bill insurance claims, you must have one of these. You can apply for this online at the NPPES website or you can call to have a paper application mailed to you.
- Locate a wholesaler
Your wholesaler is a big part of your pharmacy business. They’re not only the partner that supplies you with all the goods you’ll distribute through your pharmacy, but they can offer you other services as well. Many large wholesalers have sister companies that offer reconciliation, pharmacy software, and insurance contracts. However, there may be a disadvantage to having all your eggs in one basket. Your ability to compare prices and choose outside the network may be limited.
- Set up telephone and internet service
Pretty much everything you do in your pharmacy requires these services. So much information is sent via the internet or conveyed over the phone that it would cripple your business to go without having them. You can’t run credit cards without internet or receive e-scripts, and half the capabilities of your software aren’t functional without internet. You will need to have this installed before your board inspection.
- Obtain a NABP number
Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are required to maintain a certain amount of continued pharmacy education (CPE) to keep their licenses. As individuals, each will require a NABP number so they can receive credit for any CE class in which they participate. This also allows you to go into your NABP profile and monitor the amount of CE hours you have taken and how many hours you have left to meet requirements.
- Sign up for insurance contracts
When it comes to PBMs, there is power in numbers. As an independent PSAOs are the solution to leveraging power with PBMs. There are several PSAOs to choose from. The largest groups are owned by the major wholesalers (Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, and McKesson) and may come as part of a wholesaler deal. However, there are smaller groups that are member owned. There’s a lot of controversy that surrounds PSAOs and how well they actually represent the independent pharmacy community, so before you choose, do your research.
- Pass your board Inspection
Before you can open you must pass a pharmacy board inspection. The requirements to pass the board inspection will vary based on your state and the type of pharmacy that you’re opening. In some states you have to pass a board inspection before you can apply for some of the important numbers discussed in this article. In others, the process may be reversed. However, it’s pretty commonplace that for a board inspection in any state you must be able to print a pharmacy label.
- Pharmacy software installation and training
You may think this needs to happen before your board inspection, but that’s not always the case. Your chosen pharmacy software partner may be able to send you just the equipment required to pass the inspection. This allows you to schedule the actual installation and on-site training period closer to your anticipated open date. The training will be fresh in your mind when you open for business, and you’re more likely to have employees that could be trained closer to your open date.
This list is not comprehensive. There are probably fifty other things that you have to do before opening a pharmacy – set up IVRs, design and purchase labels, create a website. The list is really endless. However, these are ten of the most critical items to ensure that you’re working toward opening a pharmacy that is compliant with the regulations that govern the industry.
Our experienced Sales Team has a wealth of experience helping owners through the beginning stages of opening a pharmacy. Let them help you too!