Bill Popomaronis, RPh, heads up the NCPA's Long Term and Home Health Care Pharmacy Division, which provides pharmacists with business management information, niche training, and tools necessary to develop and operate an efficient and successful practice.
Offering educational programs, ownership resources, practice tools, and support in their endeavors, the Division also notifies independent pharmacists of changes in regulations that may affect their practice.Popomaronis overflows with initiatives in this role, and his
professional history seems to have not only led him to these projects, but also prepared him for tackling them.
In 1982, Popomaronis
first pharmacy in Baltimore County, Maryland, with $10,000 down and called it Edward's & Anthony's
Pharmacy.The store specialized in helping diabetes and ostomy patients."In a matter of 10 years," he
says, "we were able to get the volume of that store up to $3.8 million when the average pharmacy at that time was doing about $1.5 million."While running that pharmacy, Popomaronis saw a need to bring independent pharmacies together—to be treated like a chain such as CVS or Walgreens.
formed a company called Maryland Independent Pharmacies (MIP)."MIP started with 10 pharmacists that I knew," he
explains."And we decided we would get together to buy collectively from the same source so we could garnish economies of scale, similar to what the large chains did.Ultimately this concept caught on throughout the 1980's and eventually we combined with a group in Virginia and changed the name of the pharmacy cooperative to EPIC Pharmacies
."EPIC Pharmacies, Inc.
currently has 700 pharmacies in the Mid-Atlantic area."Our tagline was, ,the pharmacy that's right around the corner,' because essentially we were," he
shares.While continuing to run his own store, Popomaronis became the president of EPIC, a title he kept for over a decade.
"We were able to expand the operation to not only buy like chain drug stores, but we were also able to negotiate collectively with third parties insurers like Blue Cross-Blue Shield and some of the HMOs in order to get business for independents that they otherwise might not be able to get."
grew and became a bigger part of Popomaronis' life, he
was found less often in his
store and more often advocating "for the little guy."This role also took him to various mid-Atlantic state legislatures."We were very much involved with bringing forth a pharmacist-friendly legislation that would allow our pharmacies to compete with mail-order operations and with the big chains," he
explains."So my role changed from being an independent community pharmacist with his
own store and good practice to being head of a pharmacy cooperative—a chain-like entity—and being involved in legislation.So that took a lot of time but it was personally rewarding and I believe it worked out very well for the pharmacist members that were a part of EPIC."
In the 1990's, Popomaronis
noticed that a lot of independent pharmacies were selling because of managed care pressures or other reasons.Many of these pharmacies had provided services like durable medical equipment, long-term care services, senior-friendly pharmacy services, and compounding.So these services were being lost to the communities when the independent pharmacies who offered them closed."A chain drug store would be interested in filling prescriptions but not in these other unique services that the independents offered," Popomaronis
says.In 1998, Popomaronis went to McKesson Drug Company with some partners and informed them of this plight, suggesting that McKesson work with his team to help them purchase these pharmacies and, in return, McKesson would become the primary wholesaler for the pharmacies.
This way, the pharmacies would not need to close up and go away, and the communities would continue to have the services available to them that they needed."McKesson
would pick up more business," says Popomaronis
, "it made good business sense."A new company was formed for this venture, Anchor Pharmacies, named such because they were looking at it as an anchor for the community.From 1998 to 2001, Popomaronis served as Chief Executive Officer and the company purchased 15 pharmacies.
"I didn't want to see community pharmacies become cookie-cutter chains," he
was committed to the company and the concept of keeping community pharmacies viable, Popomaronis
own pharmacy into Anchor.In 2001, Popomaronis left Anchor and took some time off, but, in 2002, he got antsy.
...Popomaronis has been with the NCPA since then and has been fortunate enough to be involved in tackling some of the greatest challenges pharmacies have to face.
"When I started," he
says, "I felt it was a logical extension for community pharmacists to be involved in expanding and advancing senior care friendly services, with ,sandwich generation boomers' (boomers raising teens and caring for their parents) needing support, pharmacy was well positioned to provide solutions.Taking care of parents is a very intense and stressful time in one's life and caregivers need education on how to cope with aging challenges."Popomaronis
returned to his
original question—how does a 1,000-5,000 square foot independent compete with a 15,000 square foot chain drug store?The answer—independents can provide services that chains do not."My idea," explains Popomaronis
, "was that I developed a course to have the pharmacists understand the business of long-term care: how to be an efficient provider, how to be remarkable, and how to distinguish yourself from competition.
The other area on which Popomaronis
concentrates a lot of his
efforts is diabetes."Persons with diabetes need intense care," he