Thursday, August 11, 2011

Things I Think About When I Should be Thinking About Other Things

Why don't medical practices of a decent size have on-site pharmacies that dispense the simple stuff?  It seems to me that most of what a family practice prescribes is anti-biotics, why don't they just dispense that stuff themselves?  More exotic and problematic drugs (like narcotics) can be left to the big pharmacies, but it would seem a fairly simple thing to dispense the other stuff.

But as an economist, I figure there must be a reason since it doesn't happen - either with the economics or with the regulation - so what is it?  Anyone know?


BJCefola said...

Isn't there a rule against doctors selling drugs they prescribe- something to prevent a conflict of interest? You can see the same logic in attempts to separate doctors from imaging centers.

Patrick Emerson said...

I suppose there could be a conflict of interest problem, but I suppose you could just rent out space to a pharmacist who would have a separate business. But what I am talking about is the dispensing of mostly generic drugs - anti-biotics and NSAIDS and the like - where there doesn't seem much of an incentive to over-prescribe as the margins are probably very very low.

John S. Cline said...

It could be an Oregon thing. I moved from there 3 years ago to Colorado, and the little clinic I go to does provide certain prescriptions, although they don't have a full-scale pharmacy. You can get blood pressure and beta blockers there (the ones I take), as well as others my wife takes, but we go to a different, big-box store to get them filled because they're much, much cheaper.

Patrick Emerson said...

A comment from e-mail:

Our pediatrician's office dispenses some medications. I don't know the extent, but I've seen other parents waiting for medications. I've also been offered to have them fill an anti-vomiting prescription for my son. They told me the price ($10), but then said it might be cheaper with my insurance at a pharmacy. I opted to go to my pharmacy and it was much cheaper ($.81), but the convenience factor at the doctor's office might come in handy in the future. I don't know if they don't accept insurance for medications or what the entire story is. The clinic is Childhood Health.