Travel clinic builds pharmacy reach

October 15, 2011

For a pharmacy seeking a new niche, a travel clinic can offer a wealth of personalized services to set it apart.

Key Points

Looking for a way to expand your pharmacy’s offerings and profits? Amanda McCall, PharmD, faced the same problem at East Marietta Drugs, a Health Mart pharmacy in suburban Atlanta, Ga. Her answer was a travel clinic that offers a full range of travel immunizations, information, and counseling.

A wide-open market

"Physicians around here don't even offer travel immunizations," McCall told Drug Topics. "So even though our patients have to get a prescription for the immunizations we administer, there really isn't much competition. We had 1 patient who knew the immunizations she needed, but her physician didn't even know where to get the vaccines. It's a wide-open market."

"Most people don't perceive much risk from travel," McCall said. "Any information we can give them is helpful. They may not know that traffic accidents are the number 1 risk when you travel outside the United States. People don't usually think about drinking the local water, being careful of what they eat, dealing with travelers' diarrhea or malaria, or even just making sure their tetanus booster is current. Travel medicine is a tremendous growth area because almost no one, including physicians, knows anything about it."

Well-traveled profits

Travel medicine is also profitable. Once people realize they need travel immunizations, they are happy to pay for the service, said McCall, and they are equally happy to pay for counseling from a trusted healthcare professional.

Third-party plans typically cover vaccines and sometimes administration fees. Medicare Part B usually covers influenza and pneumococcal immunization and Medicare Part D may pay for travel-related vaccines.

Immunization fees currently range from $45 per dose for tetanus/diphtheria to $220 for Japanese encephalitis, plus an adm`inistration fee. Consultation fees run from $35 for 15 minutes to $95 per hour per person or $150 per family.