Business

Pharmacy executive says MSMEs on the critical edge

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, April 23, 2017    

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Co-owner of the Professional Pharmacy chain, David Pellow, thinks that small pharmacies and “Mom and Pop” stores in the Caribbean selling drugs are in danger of going under.

“If you can’t afford to hire the best (staff) and you’re just squeaking by, my answer is I think that you should sell. I think you should get out. I think you should merge with the guys down the street,” Pellow, whose six pharmacies are based in Canada and the Cayman Islands, told pharmacy owners at the April 9 inaugural business conference of the Jamaica Association of Private Pharmacy Owners at the Jamaica Pegasus, New Kingston.

He said that pharmacy operators would need more time to deal with dispensary operations, insurance, purchasing, inventory and the training technicians and the pharmacists in the future. He suggested that MSM pharmacy owners take their best technicians, “train them, build them up” and, eventually, make them the managers of the dispensary while they handle the business.

“Know where you are in your business. We can talk about this all day, the fact is that we are in this to make a profit, wanting to do well. You know where you are in your business. You know whether to jump in and go for it, or whether to get out, or become a trained pharmacist,” he argued.


Pellow, who started working in a pharmacy at age 12 in his homeland, Canada, also worked as pharmacist and as a consultant for a hospital in Ontario.

He has held various posts in pharmacy associations in Canada, and is a past president of the Cayman Pharmacist Association, chairman of the Pharmacy Council of the Cayman Islands and treasurer and executive director of the Caribbean Association of Pharmacists.

He said that like other states in the Caribbean Jamaica has too many “Mom and Pop” stores doubling as pharmacies.

“The way the work of the pharmacy business is going nowadays, you are really on the critical edge if you are very small. It is great to know your customers and you give them great service. But, there are too many hats to wear. There really is,” he told the audience.

“To advance the profession, you need to be super serious about our profession and our business. It’s tough for the government and the public to take you serious when you don’t,” he suggested.

He said that the changes that would come to the sector shortly would involve department stores and other chains starting their own pharmacies, in competition with the smaller ones.

“So the big girls and the big boys are coming. Look out. The same thing happened to the shoes stores…So form your own chains. You can’t remain independent,” he said.

The inaugural JAPPO conference was hosted by the association and supported by a number of stakeholders in the sector, including Lasco, Proven, Massy Distribution, Cari-Med, Facey, Medical Disposables & Supplies Limited (MDS), AIS, Sagicor and First Global.

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