Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Godzilla Versus Mechagodzilla

You've got to hand it to the community sector pharmacists, especially independent pharmacists who are often considered the technological dinosaurs of the profession, for taking on the PBMs.

PBM industry leaders were smart to quickly to embrace the use of computerization, technology, and robotics in pharmacy twenty-years ago, and over time were able to eliminate many of the Luddite community pharmacists who couldn't envision where the profession of pharmacy was headed.

After proving to many naysayers that robotics could fill prescriptions faster and more accurately than any "mere human" pharmacist could, the up and coming PBMs were able to gain concessions from state BOPs, the drug wholesalers and manufacturers, and were eventually able to become a competitive force to be reckoned with; a force powerful enough to rattle even the chain drug industry.

But, the fight ain't over. Although the PBMs initially had them reeling on the ropes, the community pharmacy sector was able to survive the first few rounds, and changed their fight strategy.

In the past few years the remaining independents and the continually consolidating chain pharmacies realized that they could effectively battle against this technological force if they just banded together, consolidated their powers, and embraced technological advances themselves.

Now, it seems to me that community pharmacies have a good chance to mount a comeback and win this fight, or at least delay the outcome. Recent technological advances in retail sector robotics now allow the retail sector most of the same capabilities that PBMs can provide. It now becomes more of a battle of political capabilities.

So, it looks to me like surprised PBM leaders may have to devise a new strategy if they want to take home the belt. Godzilla is no journeyman dinosaur, he's got heart. Don't count him out just yet.


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