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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Company enables doctors to sell medications in their offices

By Joe Stumpe
Eagle correspondent

You know the routine: Go to the doctor’s office, get a prescription, then go to a pharmacy to get it filled.

But a Wichita man and his brother hope to simplify the process by persuading physicians to dispense some drugs themselves.

“The doctors do all the work,” said Bruce Bachelor, who’s a partner in ToGoScripts with his brother, Dan. “Why shouldn’t they make the money” from selling the medications.

Bachelor said making more money isn’t the only reason why some doctors are opting to dispense drugs themselves. It can also be cheaper and more convenient for their patients, who don’t have to make a trip to the pharmacy. Bachelor said one study shows that 35 percent of prescriptions never get filled, usually either because of the time or money involved or because the patients don’t feel like they need the medication. Patients are more likely to take the medication if given it directly by their doctor, he said.

ToGoScripts is a wholesale buying group for commonly used drugs such as amoxicillin and metformin. Allergies, asthma, blood pressure problems, diabetes and acid reflux are some of conditions that can be treated with the drugs the company handles. The company lists about 800 drugs on its website. By staying away from drugs that are more strictly regulated, Bruce Bachelor said, “We don’t do anything that’s going to be a pill mill.”

Bachelor said his younger brother, a pharmaceutical representative in Arizona, came up with the idea of starting the company late last year after learning of similar operations on the West Coast. Bruce Bachelor works full time at Cessna and supervises several ToGoScripts representatives in this area in his spare time. So far, the company has representatives in Arizona, Kansas and Missouri.

In Wichita, a handful of doctors have signed with ToGoScripts to dispense drugs. Bachelor said the only requirements for dispensing doctors is that they have their state medical license and Drug Enforcement Administration registration.

Bachelor said most doctors he contacts are surprised that they can dispense drugs.

“The first thing they ask is, is it legal?” he said. “They’ve never heard of it.”

Dispensing physicians were legalized by a 1981 Kansas law, Bachelor said. In all, 46 states allow dispensing physicians, although regulations vary from state to state.

ToGoScripts hopes to expand into other states. Bachelor said his company is negotiating an agreement with a private facility with operations in 29 states.

Bachelor was required to obtain a medical wholesaler’s license, but he said ToGoScripts never actually handles the drugs, using distributors instead. In most cases, doctors can receive overnight delivery of drugs. Even with dispensing doctors and ToGoScripts making a profit, the drugs are as cheap or cheaper than those sold by major pharmacies because of his company’s bulk buying power, he said.

He said dispensing drugs is not much of a leap from current practice for many physicians.

“Doctors sell flu shots and other things out of their offices now.”

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