What do Pharmacy Wholesalers Do? An Expert's Perspective

The role of pharmaceutical wholesalers is to act as a bridge between the pharmaceutical industry and its customers. They purchase medicines from manufacturers and distribute them to various locations, such as pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, doctors' offices, and laboratories. Some wholesalers specialize in certain products or customers, while others offer a wide range of products. For independent pharmacies and pharmacy chains, buying pharmacy supplies from wholesalers is a great way to increase revenue and save money.

Wholesalers buy medicines and other equipment from pharmaceutical companies, store them in warehouses and other holding facilities, and then sell them to pharmacies. Full-line wholesalers also take measures to reduce the risk of counterfeit drugs entering the supply chain. Pharmaceutical manufacturers manage drug distribution from production to drug wholesalers and sometimes directly to retail pharmacy chains, specialty pharmacies, hospital chains, and health plans. Wholesalers usually don't negotiate prices since there is usually a competitor in every market.

This means that consumers often pay more for their medicines due to the additional costs incurred by pharmacies. For example, pharmacies compete with big box stores, vitamin stores, and health food stores for consumer dollars when it comes to selling wholesale vitamins. Wholesale distributors are the largest buyers of pharmaceuticals from manufacturers. However, in some cases, drug manufacturers also distribute products directly to government buyers such as the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), the Veterans Administration, and the Vaccines for Children (VFC).

The pharmacy category includes independent and chain pharmacies, grocery stores, or large stores with pharmacies and mail-order pharmacies. Full-line wholesalers need a stable market environment in order to thrive. This means that there needs to be a delicate balance between the prices of drugs and the benefits that pharmacies receive from selling them. If this balance is not maintained, full-line wholesalers may have to re-evaluate their distribution methods for slow-moving drugs.

Full-line pharmaceutical wholesalers carry and distribute the full range of products within the framework established by authorities and the market to meet the needs of their customers. They also take measures to ensure a safe and secure drug supply chain. Pharma IQ recently spoke with Monika Derecque-Pois, CEO of the European Association of Full-Line Pharmaceutical Wholesalers (GIRP), about how the role of wholesalers has changed in recent years. Specialty drugs now account for around 30% of wholesale revenues, which has led to significant growth in this business model over the past two years.

Rachel Celli
Rachel Celli

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