Pelican Drug is part of national network of independent pharmacies

Don Perrin, Pelican Drug.

One small town, main street business is standing up to the cutthroat competition of corporations.

Pelican Drug has joined forces with independent pharmacies across the nation, and their patient-centered business model is not only help sustain small business—but improve health care and reduce overall health care costs. 

Presenting a program at the Pelican Area Rotary Club last week was Don Perrin, Pelican Drug. His downtown, main street operation is part of a coalition that includes 3,400 pharmacies across the nation, and about 130 in the state of Minnesota. 

They are all a part of the “Community Pharmacy Enhanced Service Network” (CPESN). 

Because of Pelican Drug’s distance from other pharmacies, Perrin also secured a “rural pharmacy” designation. This helped open doors to grant funding to assist independent operations like Pelican Drug. 

Independent druggists have felt the squeeze from insurance companies, corporate pharmacy chains and mail order pharmacies. Insurance companies are also, in effect, driving patients to larger pharmacies and in many cases, are reimbursing less to independent pharmacies, noted Perrin. 

“Large corporations are steering the public away from independent pharmacies,” said Perrin. 

The money and power held by large pharmacy-related corporations is evident in the salary and benefit packages of the top executives. Perrin cited a few examples, where chief executive officers have $12 to $23 million in stock options. At one corporation, the top five executives share $58 million in stock options. 

In general, small pharmacies like Pelican Drug are putting the focus on patients, and are working in a “coordinated care” model that increases three-way communication between the patient, the physician and the pharmacist. In an ethnically diverse community like Pelican, the direct pharmacy to patient contact is even more important, said Perrin. 

Interestingly, closer working relationships between the patient, pharmacist and physician have produced results, according to data from CPESN. 

• 45 percent fewer hospital admissions 

• 15 percent fewer emergency room visits 

Data also shows that patients visit their pharmacy an average of 35 times per year; while they may visit their primary care physician only a few times annually. Based on this frequent patient contact, it only makes sense that pharmacists play a more active role in health care. 

Evidence of Pelican Drug’s hands-on, patient care is already in operation. Pelican Drug is offering COVID vaccinations. Pharmacy staff are also certified for other immunizations, flu shots, and testings.