Pharmacist Kyle McCormick offers prescription drugs at substantial savings, regardless of whether a patient has insurance coverage or not. In fact, he does not accept insurance payments. At Blueberry Pharmacy, patients can pay the same wholesale price McCormick pays, with a small dispensing fee added in. The savings, compared to typical pharmacy pricing, is eye-opening.
Blueberry Pharmacy, located in West View Park Plaza in West View, opened last March just days before Pennsylvania shut down due to COVID-19. “I opened expecting to be a pharmacy dispensing medications and ended up selling lots of masks and hand sanitizers,” McCormick said. But the need brought new customers through the door.
Once they learned his business model, they kept coming back. McCormick offers what he calls a Cost+ model. Patients can purchase an annual $60 membership to receive prescription drugs at their wholesale price plus a $3.00 dispensing fee. For a 90-day prescription, the dispensing fee is $5.00. For those choosing not to purchase a membership, the patient pays the wholesale price plus $10.00 per prescription. Included in the membership is free delivery or mail service, if needed. A 15 percent discount on over-the-counter goods is an added perk. His motto is ‘Welcome to Different’.
According to McCormick, savings are superior to an insurance plan. For example, at Blueberry Pharmacy, a 30-tablet supply of Colchicine, a gout medication, typically costs $90. As a member, a patient’s cost is $8.86 for 100 tablets, not 30 tablets. A non-member’s cost is $15.86. Thirty tablets of Sildenafil, a generic Viagra drug, has a market cost of $1993.00. A member of Blueberry Pharmacy would pay $6.94.
McCormick will consult with patients to help maximize savings, sometimes switching to generic drugs with their doctor’s consent. He recently helped a husband and wife substantially lower their prescription costs. A $100 monthly nebulizer solution decreased to $14 a month, insulin dropped from $100 a month to $5.00 and a $50 inhaler was free, using a coupon. “I like helping people save money,” McCormick said.
He currently is working with 1,000 patients, with 400-500 as members. As he builds his customer base, he appreciates that his wife, Pam, receives a more traditional paycheck. She is also a pharmacist and works at Mercy Hospital. “I’m thankful to my wife, who made it possible,” he said. The busy couple resides in McCandless with their 2-year-old son, Theo. They will welcome a baby boy in late May.
McCormick graduated from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Pharmacy in 2014. He interned and then worked at an independent pharmacy in Indiana, Pennsylvania until last year. His experience taught him that by accepting insurance payments, pharmacies have no power to negotiate reimbursements. Also, patients with insurance were often prescribed costly drugs, but, because of a high deductible, still had to foot the bill. Instead, he wanted to do things differently. “Why not open a pharmacy where the patient pays a fair price that is completely transparent,” he said. It was also important to him to build relationships and know the community.
Why the name Blueberry Pharmacy? McCormick wanted a healthy name to describe his pharmacy, and blueberries happen to be his favorite fruit, having eaten lots of them while growing up in Somerset.
Blueberry Pharmacy is the only pharmacy in the state that offers a Cost+ model but some doctors are moving toward a similar platform. Dr. Natalie Gentile, whose office is in Highland Park, offers a no-insurance family practice. On March 1, Dr. Gentile joined forces with McCormick and refers patients to his pharmacy for more savings. In her direct primary care practice, patients pay a $70 monthly fee for access to unlimited office visits, after-hours access, no co-pays, and membership to Blueberry Pharmacy. Between the 11 patients of hers who have already transferred to Blueberry Pharmacy, a savings of $6682.00 in prescription costs is projected this year. Dr. Gentile said the consultations and cost savings provided by the pharmacy complement her model of medical practice. To ensure personalized care, she limits the number of patients to 300 in her practice. At this time, however, she is still accepting new patients.
Blueberry Pharmacy is located at 1018 West View Park Drive. More information can be found at www.blueberrypharmacy.com. Hours are Monday to Friday 10:00am to 7:00pm, Saturday 11:00am to 3:00pm and closed on Sunday. Phone is 412 612 2279.
Dr. Natalie Gentile’s practice is located at 5655 Bryant Street, Pittsburgh. She can be reached at www.gentilefamilydpc.com and 412 219 4613.