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Top 5 Best Selling Over the Counter Product Categories at Independent Pharmacies in 2019

Top 5 Best Selling Over the Counter Product Categories at Independent Pharmacies in 2019

Over the Counter (OTC) medications can be found in almost everyone’s medicine cabinet, and many people rely on them daily to relieve common symptoms and stay healthy. Drawing consumers into your independent pharmacy by offering a wide selection of OTC medications may seem like a smart decision, but it’s better to focus on the right mix of product categories for everyone’s benefit.

Throughout 2019, Datascan’s large network of independent pharmacists who use our pharmacy POS software to handle consumer transactions has helped us compile data to shed light on the most popular OTC product categories. After all, since PBM fees and DIR fees continue to skyrocket (and PBM’s can’t touch OTC medications) it’s vital that you build out a profitable front end in your pharmacy to increase revenue and help combat DIR fees and low reimbursements. A bigger, better and smarter OTC section is becoming key to sustainable growth and even survival for many independent pharmacies.

Patients trust in their independent pharmacist – and often times, an OTC recommendation to compliment a prescription results in a purchase, ultimately increasing your profit on that customer. Managing your front end can be painless and easy – many pharmacy software systems include inventory management tools designed to help you better track and manage not only your drug inventory, but your front end and OTC items as well. Product trending and order predictions are easy to track in Datascan’s Pharmacy and POS software, especially once you’ve set up your ideal item thresholds.

So to kick off 2020 and make smarter buying decisions, let’s take a look at the best selling OTC product categories in 2019:

1. Acid Reducers
Acid reducers topped our list of best selling OTC products at number 1, with Prilosec OTC specifically winning 31% of pharmacists’ votes. Many prescription acid reducers often require prior authorization or step therapy from the patient’s insurance company, or have high co-pays. Pharmacists should see this as an opportunity to counsel their patient and make recommendations for a less expensive, therapeutically equivalent over the counter option. Many of these items have much higher profit margins than their prescription-only alternate. 

2.  Acne Products
Coming in second for best selling OTC products in 2019 were Acne Products, with Differin Gel scoring 25% of pharmacists’ votes. Just like prescription acid reducers, prescription acne medications are incredibly expensive and also very often require a prior authorization from the insurance company. Even with manufacturer coupons patients can see co-pays exceeding well over $50. Many over the counter acne products are available for patients to use, some of which were once prescription items. Talk with your patients and see if you can offer therapeutically equivalent, less expensive options that save them money, while generating a much larger profit margin for you. 

3.  Antibacterial Soaps
The third most purchased OTC category was antibacterial soaps with Hibiclens receiving 39% of votes. This item can be hard to find for many chain pharmacy shoppers. Often pre-surgical instructions list Hibiclens or antibacterial soaps, and patients are often unfamiliar with where to find this item. If you have patients coming in for pre-surgical or follow-up medications, make sure to talk with them about any other items they may need.   

4 & 5. Antidiarrheals & Antihistamines
The fourth and fifth most purchased OTC product categories were Antidiarrheals, with Imodium winning 86% of votes, and Antihistamines for allergies, specifically Zyrtec at 39% of votes. Most people experience bowel issues a few times a year, and are inclined to self-treat with over the counter remedies before seeking the help of a medical professional.

For individuals seeking relief from nasal congestion, sneezing, or hives, a prescription only  antihistamine was once the only option. Allegra, Zyrtec, Xyzal, and Claritin all started as prescription-only medications but now are available over the counter without a prescription. Most items even come in generic options, which definitely have a much higher margin than their more expensive brand options. Talk with your patients suffering from seasonal or environmental allergies and suggest options.

So what’s in store for 2020?

As we enter into 2020 we expect to see an increase in over the counter product sales as pharmacists begin making OTC recommendations to their patients. This is a great way to profit on your front-end, cover some of your losses, and a way to offer less expensive options to patients who may not be able to afford their high co-pays on prescription drugs. As more patients are forced to go mail order or transfer their prescriptions to a chain, you should be looking into what options you have outside of PBM-managed profits. Aside from offering therapeutically equivalent OTC options, pharmacists are encouraged to offer an OTC to compliment prescriptions. Talk more with your patients about WHY they’re taking the medications they’re on, talk about nutrient depletion, and make suggestions and recommendations for products that can improve their conditions and produce much better outcomes. CBD oils and essential oils are a booming and growing trend. Consider implementing these into your front end as well as into conversations with your patients about the benefits of utilizing them along with their current treatment methods.

Using the reports within your pharmacy and point of sale software systems will give you a great overview of your pharmacy’s inventory needs and help prepare you for busier times of year. Slower seasons can be better stocked to avoid out of dates and old inventory collecting dust on your shelves. Datascan pharmacy software includes free automatic ordering through EDI with your wholesale vendors, and also free perpetual inventory in both pharmacy and point of sale systems. Take some time to explore your pharmacy software’s inventory tools, generate reports, and plan your inventory. Help eliminate extra costs in your pharmacy and build that money back into your business!

After all, now more than ever, success and profitability of an independent pharmacy requires you to manage your inventory, purchasing, watch trends, and order smarter to help eliminate unnecessary spending. With the technology and reporting capabilities at your fingertips thanks to Datascan’s Pharmacy Software, you should be able to track your business’s inventory patterns and better predict quantities to keep in stock. By taking advantage of the technology within your pharmacy system, managing an organized front-end in your pharmacy is simple and efficient, and Datascan is proudly leading the charge.