Dispensing Doctor Buying Groups; Are They a Good Idea?

Ever since retail pharmacy realised there was strength in numbers, especially purchasing power, the buying group was formed. Does anyone know who the first retail pharmacy buying group was? Email me if you know, or leave a comment, it’s something I would be interested in.


Anyhow, I first came across the idea of Buying Groups in the late 1990s, and to memory the only one specifically set up for Dispensing Doctors was the North Yorkshire Emergency Doctors or NYED for short. This small group evolved and became the buying group called PSUK.

We all know how a buying group operates; members pay a monthly or annual fee and in return the buying group negotiates discounts or special offers for their dispensing doctor members. A good buying group will also offer plenty of help, support and expert advice to its members and it is these value-added extras which define a good buying group.

Currently at the time of writing there are only two main dispensing doctor buying groups, PSUK, who I have already mentioned and Forte. I will not go into detail here about what each of them has to offer, and I won’t comment on the value either of them could add or the support they could give to a busy dispensary manager.

Dispensary managers need to find out the facts and get the details and if they want my opinion on value against cost, they are more than welcome to contact me to get my thoughts,

Any buying group which can make the life of a busy dispensary manager easier whilst increasing dispensary profitability should be good value for money. Especially if it can save valuable time currently spent hunting down the best Manufacturer Discount Schemes [MDS] , Generic schemes, Specials or Parallel Imports.

But beware, each member must make sure they are actually signed up to all MDS available from their buying group as sign up is not always automatic.

For a dispensing practice, the question is could I negotiate a better set of discounts myself? And how much time would that take me? Is it worth it? What if I miss a great deal?

Each buying group should show its strengths in a public display via its website, if the website is lacking in content and information or is overly hidden behind membership login, its more difficult to work out the benefit of such a buying group. I prefer any organization which openly displays what it can do for its members, much in the same way I prefer net pricing rather than time delayed rebates which hide the true purchase price. Imagine shopping in your local supermarket and they said “oh we can’t tell you the price of those beans, but we guarantee that in two weeks’ time we can transfer you over some money into your account to make it the best price for beans as of today’s date…”

And what of new buying groups? Are there any new ones forming? Are any of the major retail pharmacy groups looking to move into the dispensing doctor landscape? Could a retail pharmacy group accept dispensing doctors into its membership? With the advent of Primary Care Networks and CCG buying power and negotiation what is the future for dispensing doctor buying groups?

Lots of questions; and it will be interesting to see what the answers are.

So, to sum up; to my mind buying groups are certainly well worth looking into if you are a dispensing doctor.