Best Practices

Choosing the Right Buying Group Relationship

Do you have the right buying group relationship? With so many options out there, how do you pick the one that will offer your pharmacy the best benefits?  

The vast majority of independent pharmacies have some sort of buying group relationship. For those that don’t belong to a formal group purchasing organization, there are countless small groups of pharmacies that band together to create more buying power with higher purchasing volume.  

But do you have the right buying group relationship? With so many options out there, how do you pick the one that will offer your pharmacy the best benefits?  

There are several types of buying groups and purchasing organizations that you can choose from. Many large buying group organizations charge a membership fee and provide certain benefits and member services in exchange for lower costs on prescription drug orders and potentially some OTC product orders, as well. In a buying group cooperative, profit from the organization goes back to the members in the form of a dividend. Some cooperatives are wholly member owned. Additionally, a buying group can be formed by a small group of pharmacies with the sole purpose of obtaining better pricing through higher volume orders. Each type of group comes with its own benefits and perhaps drawbacks. You can decide what is right for you by understanding the services and benefits that each organization offers. 

While the primary goal of any purchasing organization will be to help you buy as well as you possibly can, there are other key services and benefits that pharmacies can look for. 


Standing alone against PBM and audit pressures can be incredibly stressful. Your buying group can offer you representation in several key areas. Look for PSAO mediation services, claim reconciliation services and audit assistance.  

Checks and Balances 

Everyone can use a second set of eyes every once in a while. Buying group relationships can offer checks and balances with your primary wholesaler. They can also help you understand what you should and should not purchase through your buying group relationship.  

Data Mining 

Data mining and analyzing mined data is an incredibly valuable service offered by some buying group organizations. Data can be used to better understand your pharmacy business and how you can be more profitable.  

Industry Knowledgebase 

A buying group relationship should open the door to knowledge, through organization personnel and relationships, peers, vendors and additional resources. The right organization can be your go-to for anything you need from the minute you turn on the lights in the morning until the moment you lock the doors each night.  

Support for Clinical Services 

Generating non-prescription based revenue is important, and clinical services represent some of the best ways to accomplish this. The more resources you can find to support your clinical services efforts the better, so if your buying group can help in any way, it’s a major plus.   

Business Expertise 

If you’re not as passionate about the business management side of pharmacy ownership, then business guidance and resources are an important benefit to be on the lookout for. The right partners can advise you on critical metrics, best practices, employee management and more.  

Vendor Recommendations 

Just like buying groups, there are a lot of other partners and vendors to choose from. Buying groups will often have lists of preferred vendors. These are companies that they have vetted so that they can fully recommend their products and services, taking at least one step out of your search for a new pharmacy management system or point-of-sale system 

Merchandising, Marketing & Advertising 

Many pharmacies have thrown in the towel on their front end. But while the front ends of the 80’s and 90’s might not be viable for most pharmacies, there is still value to be found in the right mix of frond-end products. Your buying group can help you with the tools to optimize your front-end products.  

Looking for more?  

If you’d like to learn more about buying group cooperatives and some of the other cool things buying group relationships can help you achieve, check out our talk with experts from AAP and APCI. 

Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all solution for anything in pharmacy, so pick the areas that matter most to you and find the relationship that best meets your needs!

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