The Future of Veterinary Pharmacy

AUGUST 30, 2017
Ryan Marotta, Associate Editor
Pharmacists may soon be poised to take on new roles within the growing landscape of animal health, according to Jim Cleary, Group President of Global Commercialization Services and Animal Health for AmerisourceBergen.

Cleary, who served as the CEO of MWI Veterinary Supply until AmerisourceBergen acquired the company in February 2015, observed a number of parallels between veterinary practices and independent pharmacies.

“In the veterinary world, about 80% of practices are independent practices, so there are many similarities between being an independent veterinarian and being an independent pharmacist,” Cleary told Pharmacy Times in an interview at ThoughtSpot 2017. “It’s about being a health professional, a small business owner, and a retailer all at once. It’s about going to school to learn all these technical and medical skills and then spending a career using those skills to interact with patients and consumers.”

Given these similarities, Cleary noted that both veterinarians and independent pharmacists could equally benefit from many of the same services and technologies.
“The business coaching programs and marketing strategies that companies like AmerisourceBergen can provide in the health care market, the pharmacy market, and the animal health market are really extensive,” Cleary said. “Innovations such as e-commerce platforms and inventory management systems can also prove valuable to both independent veterinarians and independent pharmacists.”

Cleary acknowledged, however, that there are key differences between the veterinary and pharmacy spheres that independent health providers should keep in mind.
“Beyond the obvious difference of working with animals versus working with people, the biggest difference is that insurance plays a much larger role in pharmacy than in animal health,” Cleary explained. “Only a very small percentage of pet owners have insurance for their dogs or cats, so animal health tends to be a far more consumer-driven market as a result.”

Despite these differences, Cleary emphasized that there is a growing intersection between the 2 spheres, with veterinarians increasingly recommending prescription medication for pets and owners subsequently turning to their pharmacists for more information on these drugs.

“As more and more people come to see their pets as members of the family, not only is the animal health market growing, but we are also seeing more animal health products in a pharmacy setting,” Cleary stated. “Pharmacy is a vitally important part of veterinary practice, and I think we are going to continue seeing the 2 grow alongside one another for a long time.”
 

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