Pharmacy Students Named as Finalists in Business Plan Competition

A group of 4 students from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy have been named finalists in the Good Neighbor Pharmacy National Community Pharmacists Association Pruitt-Schutte Student Business Plan Competition.

A group of 4 students from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Pharmacy have been named finalists in the Good Neighbor Pharmacy National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) Pruitt-Schutte Student Business Plan Competition.

One member of the UAMS team, Luke Morrison, told Pharmacy Times that the business plan involves buying an existing pharmacy in Little Rock, Arkansas.

“The pharmacy was already very successful and thriving in its respective community; however, my teammates and I thought that there was great room for improvement and expansion,” he said.

Beyond offering new services, the pharmacy students proposed launching a specialty pharmacy within the store called Rhea Drug.

“The store possesses deep historical roots in Little Rock and, more specifically, a bond with the [human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)] population going back to when the disease was introduced in the 1980s,” Morrison said. “Because of the high volume of high-cost HIV prescriptions, my group saw this as a logical transition into specialty pharmacy.”

The UAMS students planned a marketing scheme for both the retail and specialty pharmacies. Some ideas that they had for the retail pharmacy included getting involved in community events in the area, such as Harvestfest, and getting the word out about the pharmacy through mail outs and billboards. For the specialty pharmacy, the students planned to advertise to health care providers only.

“The pharmacy will provide prescribers with HIV prescription referral forms in order to make the prescribing process easy and convenient, which will increase patient adherence,” Morrison said.

Morrison and his team members, Kristen Belew, Brooklyn Pruett, and Christina Watkins, created a vision statement for their proposed pharmacy, which emphasizes quality patient health care and compassionate pharmaceutical care.

Their mission statement reads: “The mission of Rhea Drug is to improve health outcomes, reduce the cost of health care, and to enhance the pharmacy experience for our patients. We will achieve this by focusing on medication adherence, providing efficient and personalized patient care, and continuing to offer outstanding customer service in both the community and specialty pharmacy settings. At Rhea Drug, your health is our specialty.”

Morrison credited his team with “tremendous work ethic and passion to win.” He also thanked the team’s advisers, Seth Heldenbrand, PharmD, and Schwanda Flowers, PharmD, for their support.

Morrison said he and his wife are small business owners, so he was naturally interested in independent community pharmacy ownership. He added that the idea of having a store with his name on it excites him.

“I can only hope that in the future I will own a pharmacy that many patients are proud to trade with,” Morrison said.

The UAMS team will attend the NCPA 117th Annual Convention and Trade Exposition in the Washington, DC, area October 10-14, 2015, and will compete for first, second, or third place in a live competition.