How to Start a Pharmacy Business

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How to Start a Pharmacy Business
Pharmacies must follow many health laws and regulations. (préparatrices en pharmacie image by cédric chabal from

Pharmacies, chemist shops and drugstores sell over-the-counter medicines and medications prescribed by doctors and other health care professionals. Operating a pharmacy requires business acumen, expertise in pharmaceuticals and a desire to help people. Knowledge of federal and state regulations that govern pharmacies is also important for one seeking to establish this type of business.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Business license
  • Start-up capital
  • Location
  • Licensed/certified/qualified employees
  • Inventory of drugs
  • Computer system with necessary software

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  1. 1

    Determine whether you want to open your own pharmacy, take over an existing pharmacy or run a franchise. Operating a franchise is the cheapest option and requires less planning. The franchise company will help you get the store ready. Moreover, you will have a recognised brand name. The advantages of buying an existing pharmacy are an established customer base, reliable location and supplier relationships. Starting a pharmacy from scratch is the most challenging option. You will have to draft a business plan, obtain financing, find suppliers, select a location and operate on your own with minimal outside support.

  2. 2

    Incorporate the business. Seek the services of an attorney and an accountant for advice. Apart from the business documentation, you may be required to purchase medical liability insurance. Contact an insurance consultant for assistance.

  3. 3

    Apply for licensing in your state. It is also important to acquire licenses in other states where you will be selling medicine, supplies and merchandise. Licensing laws vary from state to state. Consult an attorney to understand the rules and regulations and to avoid fines or penalties.

  4. 4

    Search for a prime location or a location where there is no similar business operating. You will need storage facilities, display racks, counters and furniture.

  5. 5

    Apply for a permit from the Board of Pharmacy of your state. Do this after you have decided on a location and obtained ownership rights. To be granted ownership rights, an inspector first reviews the premises to determine if it meets the minimum operating standards.

  6. 6

    Obtain a pharmacy ID from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores or the National Community Pharmacists Association.

  7. 7

    Make sure a pharmacist or doctor is always on site. This is a requirement in the United States and is necessary to avoid mishandling of prescription drugs. Hire qualified and trained individuals and consider taking a clinical pharmacy course to boost your credentials. Thoroughly screen all potential employees.

  8. 8

    Decide which medicines and drugs you will stock. This will include commonly used and prescribed drugs. Make arrangements for special medication orders for customers.

  9. 9

    Create relationships with suppliers. Research the suppliers' backgrounds to be sure you are dealing with reputable companies as there have been cases of suppliers providing counterfeit prescriptions and illegitimate drugs. Have a formal written contract with each supplier.

  10. 10

    Decide the mode of sale with the suppliers. Determine whether you will buy medicines and sell them or buy medicines on a consignment basis. Discuss details in advance. Take advantage of the many drug samples and discounts commonly offered to chemists.

  11. 11

    Check each shipment you receive from a supplier for safety and quality. The Food and Drug Administration requires that certain drugs be checked and approved by a qualified doctor before being sold.

  12. 12

    Develop a system for inventory management and dispensing of medication. Like any other business, the pharmacy must have a proper accounting system. Get a Medicare billing number. This number will trace prescriptions given to older customers.

  13. 13

    Consider selling online. This will increase overall sales and facilitate the marketing and advertising of the business. On the website, note the pharmacy location, the kind of drugs it sells and that it is authorised to sell drugs. Establish Internet security for orders and follow all requirements for online payments.

  14. 14

    Market the business through trusted websites and offline sources. Include information for consumers that conveys that the pharmacy is a legitimate business.

  15. 15

    Keep customers happy as this will bring you referrals. Customers satisfied with your services will recommend you to friends who could generate additional business.

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