Expiring inventory is a fact of life in any pharmacy, but you may be leaving money on the shelf if you aren’t taking certain steps to effectively manage your inventory. These 10 tips will help you minimize the number of products that go out of date and ensure you can get the most credit possible from the products that do expire on your shelves.
1. Don’t Let Items Go Too Far Out of Date
Items that aren’t returned in a timely manner after expiration can go too far out of date to receive credit. Most manufacturers will only issue credit for items returned within 6 months to a year after expiration. If your shelves aren’t thoroughly searched for outdated items, this can cause losses of thousands of dollars of credit. Always remember to check your refrigerated items and the area where controls are stored as well so you don’t miss any items in those locations.
2. Order Smaller Quantity Bottles
If you know a product doesn’t have a high turnover rate, order a smaller quantity bottle even if the price per pill is a little higher. Manufacturers are less likely to issue credit for an open container, so it’s better to need to order another bottle than to only use a few out of an economy size bottle and lose credit on the remainder.
3. Wait Until the Patient Arrives
If the item is not in the original packaging, the manufacturer will not accept it, so avoid repackaging items until you’re sure the prescription will be picked up. When you are supplying a patient with an item that remains in the manufacturer’s container, wait until they arrive to pick it up to apply the prescription label. Then if the patient doesn’t pick up their prescription the item can most likely be returned for credit, but manufacturers will not issue credit for an item with a prescription label.
4. Don’t Mark on the Label
Another leading cause of credit denial is a damaged product or label. If your staff marks bottles with an “X” be sure that they do not write on the label as this can cause manufacturers to deny credit. We recommend using removable stickers on the bottle, not the label, or marking the caps. If you have an item that was dispensed in the original manufacturer’s container but never picked up, you must carefully remove the prescription label, or the manufacturer will not issue credit.
5. Don’t Open a Short-Dated Item
If you have two unopened bottles of the same drug and need to fill a prescription, open the one that has more dating on it – manufacturers are more likely to issue credit for full items than partial items. You can return the item that is expiring soon and are more likely to receive credit for it if it is unopened.
6. Don’t Open a New Bottle Until You Need It
Again, one of the main reasons that manufacturers deny credit is for partial containers. If you have a bottle with just a few pills, make sure you use them before you open a new container!
7. Keep the Original Manufacturer Containers
If you have a robot or put expensive items into blister packs, keep the original manufacturer’s container so you can place the items back into it if they aren’t used by the time they go out of date. Manufacturers will not issue credit for items that are outside of their original packaging. This is not practical for all items but can be a way to recoup costs on very expensive drugs. An on-site service representative can take care of this for you if you choose a full-service return option.
8. Improve Patient Adherence
According to NCPA, 82% of health care spend is on chronic disease, but only half of these patients take medications appropriately. Take time to educate your patients and prepare them for all potential outcomes while taking the drug: feeling better, feeling worse, or feeling no change, and let them know that it’s important to continue taking it as prescribed for it to have a positive impact on their condition. Take time to explain their condition and how the drug works so they have a better understanding of the way that it’s helping them. It’s also important to take a moment to look at a patient’s profile when they’re refilling a prescription. Are there other prescriptions they’ve decided not to refill? If so, ask if they’d like to refill those at the same time, and if they decline, use the opportunity to have a conversation with them about why they’re making that decision. You can coordinate all medication refills for patients to pick up at the same time each month, with advantages for both your inventory management and your patients. This creates more opportunities for counseling through improved time management and decreases the likelihood that the patient will have an interruption to their therapy.
9. Know Your Inventory
Have a robust system in place to keep track of your inventory. This starts with an annual physical inventory, so you know what you have on hand. Appoint someone to manage this and use your inventory software system to support your inventory process. Utilize the reporting tools provided by your pharmacy software system to identify items that you haven’t dispensed in a certain amount of time. You can then return those unopened drugs to your wholesaler or sell open bottles on a drug exchange marketplace. You should also adjust your inventory system’s parameters to handle seasonal demand changes for prescription cold and flu or allergy medications. If your system is set to keep a certain amount of those products stocked, adjust down toward the end of the season and up again before the season begins. If you know that a generic drug is coming out, be sure to adjust automatic reordering of the branded medication. Finally, don’t stock uncommon or expensive items. Take advantage of next-day delivery from your wholesaler if you have patients that need these items and ask them to give you advance notice so you can have them as needed.
10. Rotate Your Stock
One of the most effective ways to minimize expired products is to rotate your stock. Conduct a regular review of your products and note any that are unopened and nearing expiration. Set an expectation with your staff to be constantly aware of expiration dates, and to note when they encounter items that expire within the year. Most wholesalers will accept unopened items with at least six months of dating remaining, so replace the item that is near expiration with one that has a longer shelf-life. If you have opened items nearing expiration and you aren’t dispensing them regularly, consider trying to sell them on an overstock marketplace rather than waiting for them to go out of date. When you receive orders from your distributor, make it a habit to check the expiration date to ensure you have adequate time to dispense it before it goes out of date.
Bonus: Analyze Return Reports
Be sure to utilize the reporting capabilities offered by your returns provider! A quality returns company like Return Solutions will offer you detailed reports listing non-returnable items down to the NDC level with the reason that item was not returnable for credit. You can use these reports to adjust your purchasing habits in the future. Take note of which products are sold on a non-returnable basis, the manufacturers that don’t accept returns at all, and which manufacturers don’t accept partial items. If possible, avoid purchasing products sold as non-returnable and choose different manufacturers for future orders or reduce stock from those manufacturers with poor return policies.
Choosing a reputable partner for your Rx returns can make this process as simple and profitable as possible. Return Solutions has been in business for over 30 years and has gained the trust of over 25 group purchasing organizations and thousands of pharmacies across the country. With the OneCheck Select program, most of your credit is consolidated into a single check, issued within as few as 10 days after a return. Credit tracking is practically eliminated, leaving you more time to focus on your patients. The fee is all-inclusive and deducted from your payment. Offering both on-site and mail-in service, Return Solutions has an option that’s right for you. Receive the 30-for-90 promotion on your first return when you sign up today!