Money, health, and nerves at the pharmacy — how to save them

Why can you trust this information? During his university studies, your author worked as a pharmacist on night shifts for 3 years. Whether that’s enough or not is up to you, but I would highly recommend reading to the end.

The biggest problem. A pharmacy in Ukraine today is a business. It has to be profitable. Period. The owner is not interested in anything else.

What do managers do? They simply try to increase sales. For them, medicines are just a regular product. They don’t understand that there are different clinical cases, that a pharmacist can’t diagnose or prescribe treatment.

How are sales increased? In general, in banal ways. There are special customer service standards. Roughly speaking, it’s an algorithm of work for a pharmacist. It’s not always aimed at «selling» you something, often it’s appropriate and needed to help better. But the main business goal of creating standards is to help the pharmacist sell. I’ll explain the potentially slippery moments.

Complex sale. This is when a pharmacist finds out what health problems you have and «expands» the purchase with additional drugs.

Example: You ask for a fever-reducing drug. The pharmacist assumes you have a cold and starts asking if you have a runny nose, cough, headache… Suppose you answer that you have a cough, and you get a recommendation for expectorant drugs. In this case, it’s beneficial for both you and the pharmacy. But sometimes, under such a pretext, they recommend an unnecessary drug.

How to act: if you don’t want to spend extra money, don’t need such a drug or hear about it for the first time — say that you already have it at home.

Additional sale. Similar to complex, but not related to the client’s initial problem.

Example: You also go to the pharmacy for a fever reducer. But before accepting payment, the pharmacist offers anything — hematogen, promotional offers, something for your personal medicine cabinet, etc.

How to act: Evaluate the pharmacist’s offer. If you’re not interested — you can say that you’re buying the medicine not for yourself, and you don’t need anything.

Priority product. Manufacturers can sign contracts with pharmacy chains so that their drugs are recommended first. The pharmacy gets money for this, the manufacturer — increased sales, and the pharmacist — a plan of how many packages need to be sold within a certain period.

Example: You come again for a fever reducer, but instead of the drug you ask for, the pharmacist starts actively recommending another one.

How to act: If you need the medicine you initially came for — insist on it. If the choice is not principal — listen to the pharmacist, and then ask him the question «Why is your recommendation better than the drug I asked for?» If the pharmacist answers clearly, to the point, compares the two drugs and explains the differences — you’re lucky to meet a responsible pharmacist. Agree and take the recommended. If the answer did not convince you — refuse.

Why do pharmacists agree to such working conditions? Believe me, guys are far from thrilled with such marketing moves. But they simply have no choice for a number of reasons.

1) It’s a common phenomenon in most pharmacies. To get a job as a pharmacist — you have to sign a number of documents, among which there is an internal «charter». It describes what a pharmacist is obliged to do (including the above) and how he will be fined in case of non-compliance with the requirements. If you don’t sign — you don’t work, it’s simple.

2) Personal sales plan. The pharmacy network office calculates how much each pharmacy should earn in a month and divides this amount among the pharmacists. The computer registers each check and keeps track of sales for each employee. If you don’t meet the plan — you get a fine.

3) Mystery shoppers. Once a month, a stand-in person with a dictaphone comes to each pharmacy. He looks like a regular customer and it’s very difficult to identify him. If you don’t meet the service standards, don’t make a complex and additional sale, what happens? Right, a fine.

As a result, pharmacists have to accept the rules of the game. The author of the article did not accept this and therefore left to work in another field at the first opportunity.

In the current situation, reliable information about medicines is the best protection. Want to know which drugs are effective, safe, and recognized in the world? We have prepared an article about the home medicine cabinet especially for you.