So many young pharmacists usually ask this question, Is owning a pharmacy outlet profitable? How is easy can it be? and what are the requirements to open a pharmacy?. Also, it is frequently asked if a non pharmacist can own a pharmacy outlet? All these and so many other questions about community pharmacy business are addressed in this post.
In addition, you will also get to know what to look out for when looking for a location to establish your pharmacy. But before that, let us answer some of these questions logically.
Is owning a pharmacy profitable?
The answer is yes. Pharmacy profession is a fast growing one in innovation with regards to health supplements, new drugs and medical devices. About a large proportion of the world’s population may depend on one of these products to enhance their health status.
Also, drug is one of the basic needs of man just as food. Meaning, people can spend all their life saving to stay healthy or to have a good quality of life. Hence,they cannot literally cope without patronizing the community pharmacy except for rural areas where there are other forms of alternative medicines.
Therefore, owning a community pharmacy outlet is a way to serve the purpose of provision of these dugs, drug advice and medical devices to the general public and making cash from it.
Is it easy to open a Pharmacy?
If I tell you it is easy, then know it that I am deceiving you. But, it is not always as difficult as people always present it – I think passing through pharmacy school is even more difficult. In any case, it is important to bear in mind that it is neither a ponzi scheme nor a lotto where you can get rich overnight. It requires patient and hard work to nurture the business.
Notwithstanding, owning a community pharmacy business is not left for only Pharmacist. The requirements to open a pharmacy are similar both for Pharmacist and non pharmacists. The difference lies with how the pharmacy is run. In other words, a non pharmacists can only own a pharmacy under the supervision and management of a licensed pharmacist.
Having that in mind, I will give you a brief rundown on the requirements to open a profitable pharmacy outlet. In any case, though my emphasis will be from my own country – Nigeria. But, I believe they all have similar framework, all you need is to find out what works in your own country.
Requirements to open a community pharmacy
As mentioned above, the community pharmacy setup may vary in different countries. But, they have similar steps. Below are the steps;
- Business name registration
- Getting a suitable location
- Registration with a Pharmacy regulatory body
- Furnishing the pharmacy
- Publicity and advertisement
How to register a Business name
The first step to owning any business at all is to have the business registered. There are so many advantages of registering a business which includes having a legal identity and also authority in your field.
In Nigeria, the body that oversee the registration of businesses is the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
The CAC has a platform where you can do a name search and make sure no other business have the name you intend to use. Then, you can go ahead and incorporate your business with the body.
Note: The PCN code of ethics is against choosing names that brings about claims of superiority of other pharmacist. Names such as “prescription specialist” or “Top chemist”
Requirements for CAC registration
The following documents are a prerequisite if you want to register a business with the CAC body.
- 2 recent passport photographs
- Your personal documents such as name, address etc.
- 2 business names (one to serve as an alternative)
- A business partner ( You can use your wife or kids)
- Other details where applicable
Steps to register your pharmacy under CAC
Step 1: Business name search;
A fee of #500 is paid to the body to check the availability of your business name. You are allowed to submit two different names of your choice.
Once the CAC find your name to be available in their database, You can either proceed with the registration immediately or given a grace period to reserve your chosen name for as long as 6 months.
Step 2: filling and submission of statutory forms
The form CAC1.1 is provided and to be filled by the potential owner of the business. You are to supply information such as; Download CAC 1.1 form here
- Approved name of the business
- General purpose of the business
- Name, Address and other information of the proprietors
- Signature of the proprietor
- A current pharmacy license
- 2 passport photographs of the applicants
These items are to be submitted after paying the prescribed fee from the CAC. Finally, the evidence of payment is submitted with a stamp duty certificate.
Registration with a Pharmacy Regulatory Authority
The practice and conducts of all pharmacy premises are supervised by a Pharmacy Regulatory body.
In Nigeria, below are the requirements to register a community pharmacy with the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria (PCN).
- Certificate of incorporation from the CAC
- Current Annual Pharmacy license to practice
- Prescribed fee in bank draft payable to the council
- Memorandum and article of association
- NYSC discharge certificate if a new pharmacist
- Legal agreement between the superintendent pharmacist and his employer
- Undertaking letter from the superintendent pharmacist to having one full time job
- A resignation letter from the superintendent pharmacist if he had a previous job
- Letter of undertaking from the managing director of the establishment that all pharmaceutical activities shall be direct under the personal control and management of the superintendent pharmacist.
Getting a suitable location
This is the most important part of the requirements to open a profitable pharmacy business.
However, when choosing a location, 2 things have to be at the back of your mind.
- A good location that will suit your business
- Location that meets the requirements of the PCN body.
Location that suits your business
Pharmacy as any other business will require growth especially in the regular customer aspect. Here, are what to consider when looking for a suitable pharmacy location.
1. Traffic to your shop
You should consider the number of residential houses, offices or schools around your pharmacy. Also, try to understand their financial capabilities and different drug needs. Example, residential home will patronize you more on pediatrics drugs, geriatrics e.t.c
This will help you to know the right drug to stock in your pharmacy.
2. Business Opportunities and Threats
A pharmacy that is located near a hospital or a medical laboratory outlet tend to do well.
Also, try to avoid a congested place and unnecessary competition with other pharmacy outlets.
3. Visibility and accessibility
A good location is the one that is easily seen or located. And, a location where one can comfortably walk in.
In addition, make sure your pharmacy is located where there is a parking space.
A location that meets your PRA requirements
Different Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (PRA) in different countries have their own requirements for a standard location.
In Nigeria, the regulatory body is the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria (PCN). Their requirements for a good location for a community pharmacy includes;
- The location have to be at least 200 meters apart from another Pharmacy outlet.
- The inside have to measure at least 30 square meters and at least a height of 3.05 meters from the ceiling.
- The location must not be in a place where there is no heavy commercial activities such as a market place or a motor park.
Furnishing a pharmacy outlet is somehow different from other businesses. This is because there are basic requirements every Pharmacy outlet must have before the Board Authority can approve it as a pharmacy.
Therefore, they are not optional but a must have. So, when trying to get a community pharmacy running. Make sure the list of items below are properly budgeted for. They includes;
A well fixed and attractive shelves;
This piece of furniture should depend on your capital. But, do not under budget for it because, to an extent it contributes to the psychological idea of quality your potential customers will see.
In other words, poor furniture will make your pharmacy look substandard and it will also affect the glory of your drugs.
Office for the pharmacist
In every community pharmacy, there has to be a room set aside for consultation and patient counselling. On the door is placed ” Pharmacist on duty”. This consultation room has to be set aside in a quiet place where there is no much noise nor distraction. It is also important to make sure it protects the patient’s privacy and confidence.
It is a must have for every outlet before it can be approved.
Having a store separate from your dispensing room. This is where excess drugs are kept at good storage conditions. It is a requirtement that the store be equipped with a good storage condition that can retain the activity of the drugs over a long period of time. In tropical countries where there is heat, Air conditioner is a necessity in maintaining the ideal temperature of the store room.
Also, a space in the store have to be designed for keeping drugs that have expired or drugs to be returned due to disruption in the integrity of the packaging.
The poison box in a pharmacy is designed to house the controlled drugs or drugs likely to be abused such as Bromazepam and codeine.
In this regard, it is only a superintendent pharmacist that is required to dispense drug products from the poison box. It is his/ her duty to confirm the validity of the prescription before dispensing.
The patient is meant to sign the poison form before receiving the drugs.
Some of the drugs in the pharmacy can deteriorate with heat ( thermolabile products). Such drugs as vaccines, insulin, suppositories e.t.c needs to be stored in the fridge at all times.
Therefore, a Woking refrigerator is compulsory in all pharmacy outlets.
This is to serve both the staffs as well as your customers. Therefore, locate it in a place that will be easily accessible to the both parties without interrupting the normal activity of the premise.
Patients are to wait for their prescriptions to be filled. Hence, try and make your waiting room as comfortable as possible.
Install good waiting seats, television sets and playing toys for the pediatric patients.
The waiting room should have access to the pharmacist office, the counter, the inlet and outlet doors.
Unlike the above mentioned equipment that are compulsory for all community outlets, these devices are optional and depends on the pocket of the pharmacy owner.
However, technology is very important in a pharmacy such as computers and software that can monitor inventory, improve good dispensing practices and manage procurement.
Other equipment may include surveillance cameras, bright and beautiful bulbs, special security doors e.t.c.
Publicity and advertisement
This step is a very crucial and delicate one. It involves complex activities that will go beyond basic professional knowledge.
At this stage you may require to learn from other business owners, seek a professional advice and try to Learn out of experience.
There are many ways to advertise or publicize your business which includes;
- The offline marketing strategy
- Online or digital marketing means
Offline includes; well packaged rendering of services, giving out souvenirs with the pharmacy tag, discount policies e.t.c.
As earlier said its a skill that you will need to learn on your own to improve your business.
Finally, do not invest all your capital trying to advertise your business. Its a business and it requires time to grow. Just ensure that each customer that leaves your shop will have a reason to come back. Wait and see how profitable owning a pharmacy can be.
Note; These requirements to open a pharmacy might vary in different countries. It is important you check the pharmacy law and authority guiding the practice of pharmacy in your country.