The Challenges Of Keeping Proper Inventory in Pharmacy


Keeping inventory in pharmacy is already difficult. And keeping stock of dangerous substances like opioids requires even more caution.

For pharmacists and pharmacy owners, responsible stocking and storing of products is essential running their businesses runs smoothly, and making sure they possess the medications that customers need. Drug Topics spoke with Weston Humphreys, chief operations officer and marketing manager at Tyson Drugs, an independent pharmacy in Holly Springs, Mississippi, about storing controlled substances, what has helped his pharmacy become more efficient, and more.

Balancing supply and demand is obviously essential for any business. Humphreys described finding that balance, and how Med Sync has assisted in achieving it.

Humphreys Headshot

Humphreys: Although I don't have any perspective into what it's like to manage inventory at a chain pharmacy, I would assume it's both very similar and very different than at an independent pharmacy. Like any business, inventory is money sitting on the shelves; with the climate of retail pharmacy, every dime needs to be invested into cash flow and not collecting dust. Balancing inventory is very difficult; we want to stock the right medications at the right time, but we also want to keep our inventory’s cash balance as low as possible. This is where tools like Med Sync and ordering analytics are absolutely crucial.

Med Sync—or medical synchronization—is a strategy that pharmacies use to align the dates in which multiple prescriptions are refilled. Med Sync can reduce the amount of trips a customer must take to the pharmacy because they’re getting multiple prescriptions at once. It can also help pharmacies take better stock, and become more consistent in the prescriptions they refill.

Humphreys: At Tyson Drugs, we preach Med Sync like it's gospel. Our pharmacies have been hyper focused on growing, improving, and sharing our processes around Med Sync for decades. It's been the most effective tool in our entire organization, and we've seen it recreated and proved to be successful time and time again at other independent pharmacies across the nation. Improvement to inventory management is only one of the benefits to a robust Medication Synchronization model as well as transforming a pharmacy practice into a proactive, clinically capable provider of endless healthcare services beyond dispensing medications.

Some products must be more closely monitored than others. The dangers of controlled substances like opioids are well-documented. Irresponsible distribution and prescribing of drugs like hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxycodone and acetaminophen (Percocet), codeine, and fentanyl have led to hundreds of thousands of deaths in the United States alone in recent years. For pharmacists and pharmacy owners, responsible stocking and storing of products is essential to making sure their businesses run smoothly, and possess a safe amount of the medications that customers need.

Humphreys: There are extra laws and regulations in place concerning controlled substances. Retail pharmacies must follow regulations put in place by both the Drug Enforcement Administration and [each] state board of pharmacy, which include complying with strict record-keeping and security requirements. Although the Mississippi Board of Pharmacy does not require controlled substances to be stored differently than non-controlled medications, there are best practices around storing certain drugs that are often involved in theft, usually opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine. Some pharmacies choose to store these medications in locked cabinets or safes and limit personnel access. Others choose to disperse medications throughout the stock of non-controlled medications which can also obstruct theft.

Thank you to Weston Humphreys for joining Drug Topics for this conversation. You can learn more about Tyson Drugs at

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