Natural products increase sales for Lionville Pharmacy

July 12, 2018By Focus on the Pharmacy Front End Blog, Independent Pharmacy, Step into Natural

by Jen Johnston, CHHC, senior marketing services account manager, for the Step into Natural blog series

In Exton Pennsylvania, not far from the turnpike, sits a modest building with a blue roof and an American flag waving out front. The name of the business is Lionville Natural Pharmacy, an independent compounding pharmacy that has been in business nearly 40 years.

Like so many of the 20,000+ community pharmacies, the business of running Lionville is a family affair. Ben Briggs, RPh, founded the pharmacy in 1979 and Michael Briggs, Pharm D, is now a second generation owner.

Lionville Pharmacy Profile
L to R: Michael Briggs, Pharm D and Ben Briggs, RPh

Ahead of the curve, they began carrying natural products over 25 years ago for two reasons: a lifelong interest in alternative approaches and the unfortunate reality of decreased profits from third-party reimbursement on prescriptions. Michael says natural products offered them a great opportunity to increase sales, as he insists they can for other independents.

Unlike other pharmacies that have incorporated a small to modest amount of natural items into a larger conventional mix of products, Lionville has evolved to carrying at least 95% natural products in the front end. In fact, they keep their conventional products somewhat segregated due to limited demand and interest from their shoppers.

Their customers range from 30-65 on average and are well educated with good jobs, and a heightened interest in their health and wellbeing. Their mission is to “serve the community providing quality integrative pharmaceutical care.” They offer their customers what no other competitors can – full-service prescription and compounding needs with the best of natural health and food products.

On the front end, they stock practitioner-only supplements, regular natural supplements, homeopathic remedies, herbal remedies, natural health and beauty aids, organic whole foods, protein shakes, and medical foods, along with a handful on conventional products.

They make recommendations for natural items when the product provides a viable alternative for a condition, has been clinically validated, offers less side effects, does not cause drug interactions, and is cost effective for the patient.  Conventional products are typically used as a last line of defense vs. a first line.

Products are chosen based on company quality, integrity, cGMPs in manufacturing, and third party testing followed by consumer request, publications, etc.  They appreciate manufacturers that provide detail sheets for all of their products to help train their staff. Sourcing natural products is not difficult for them as they have relationships with both the drug wholesalers and natural wholesalers, such as KEHE and UNFI. They also order direct from manufacturer.

Over the years, Lionville has hosted a variety of seminars, open houses, and health fairs. Partnering with practitioners for other events has also proved to be beneficial.

Mike says that people are the best part of serving his community; he feels his calling in life is building relationships to help others. He offers this advice for other independents who are considering investing more in natural products: “Educate yourself first about natural products — talk with other pharmacists that are in or have been in the business — then start investigating the various companies out there. I have always found the highest level of confidence in dealing with healthcare practitioner-only brands as they have the highest quality products and offer the best in both education and service.”