Reconsider your pharmaceutical pricing
Well, the news may not be all bad. But we will have to make some changes. Flea and tick control product sales have been hard
hit, but the worst may be over. In a recent survey of more than 2,000 dog and cat owners, only 32 percent of respondents said
they would likely purchase from a source other than veterinarians. About the same number will definitely continue to purchase
from veterinarians, and roughly a third will likely purchase from their veterinarians. Of course that is "all things as they
A change in how we price and pre-sent these products could well swing the numbers back our way. Continuing to market and price
product as we have in recent years, however, will drive more people to consider the commodity price rather than the value
of these products. I do not think our pharmacies will disappear—at least not in the immediate future—but I do think we need
to revisit the intent and structure of our dispensing approach. Markups such as "2.2 times cost plus a packaging fee" will
no longer float in a time when some pharmacies are charging a flat $5 or even $10 fee for prescriptions, and, in fact, some
supermarket pharmacies will fill prescriptions for common drugs for no charge at all.
The same truth likely holds true in the rest of our pharmacy. We simply cannot continue to mark up drugs at 2.5 to 3 times
our cost. Heartworm and flea and tick super product prices are no longer in a black box. Pet owners have access to information
and prices as close as their smart phone. So do you. Don't price match when challenged. Set your price in the range of what
A recent survey of pet owners reports that veterinarians who made available lower-cost products or source options demonstrated
a concern for their patients and clients and consequently were held in higher esteem for the commitment. Further, less costly
products may free up money earmarked "for the dog" for services and healthcare—$50 less spent on products may well translate
into $50 more spent on healthcare other than products.
Pet care expenses are generally discretionary spending, and often pet owners have a budgeted amount when they go to the veterinarian.
Reducing the cost of certain products that have become commodities will free money for other indicated services. So we have
to learn a new way of thinking about pharmacies, and we have to stop relying on dispensed products to buoy our financial flow.
Dr. Paul is a veterinary consultant and a founding member and former executive director/CEO of the Companion Animal Parasite
Council. He has served as president of the American Animal Hospital Association. He lives in Anguilla in the British West