USA Drug Sale Sparks New Competition From Independent Pharmacists

by George Waldon  on Monday, Oct. 1, 2012 12:00 am  

Terry and Jennifer Perkins are opening Oak Grove Pharmacy JFK in the aftermath of the USA Drug sale. (Photo by Jason Burt)

Perkins said that free local delivery and compounding specialty prescriptions for customers are services that will set his new North Little Rock drugstore apart from Walgreens.

His shelves will feature a different mix of goods, with a heavier dose of medicine products and less general merchandise. Though dwarfed in size by Walgreens, he isn't intimidated to compete with the biggest of the big boys and believes he can beat them with personal service.

"It's not bad at all because they make people angry, and I make them happy," said Perkins, a second-generation pharmacist with an aunt and uncle who also are pharmacists.

His father, Hugh, owns Medicine Man Pharmacy in North Little Rock. The elder Perkins said the USA Drug acquisition is opening the doors of opportunity for independent pharmacists to gain some extra business.

"New independents will likely come in at a rate we haven't seen before," Hugh Perkins said. "The number of independents has been in the decline.

"It's going to be one of the bigger changes I've seen in my 35 years. It's going to be exciting for some entrepreneurs."

Cornerstone Pharmacy, which operates six pharmacies in the Little Rock area and northwest Arkansas, also is working on a deal to open a JFK location.

"From what I hear, there a lot of people looking to jump out there," said Aubrey Harton, a pharmacist and partner in the Cornerstone pharmacy at 1811 Rahling Road in west Little Rock.

W.P. Malone Inc. of Arkadelphia, which operates a chain of 17 drugstores in Arkansas, is in the process of opening a new pharmacy in Heber Springs. But that deal was in the works for some time and just happens to coincide with the USA Drug-Walgreens transaction.

"When this announcement came, I began to look at other possibilities," said Percy Malone, a pharmacist and owner of W.P. Malone. "There are a lot of good pharmacists looking for opportunities, and I have talked with some of them.

"The key is who's in the pharmacy taking care of the people in the neighborhood. It's the people in the building who make a difference, not Percy Malone."

Like others, Malone expects a rash of new pharmacies to crop up to replace some of the USA Drug locations. Several potential partnerships with a local pharmacist are in the offing, he said.



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