From the Patriot Ledger, March 19, 2014
WEYMOUTH -- In today’s pharmaceutical-provider market, competition is stiff. Major pharmacy chains, insurance-required prescription-by-mail programs, big-box stores with pharmacies and small independent pharmacies all try to maximize their shares of the prescription-filling business. The retailers also offer health and beauty products.
The 67-year-old family-owned Olden’s Pharmacy in Weymouth has been holding its own through the decades of change.
It was established by Carmel Olden in 1947. In 1972, Fred Hackett purchased the business from Olden and then turned it over to his son, Paul, daughter, Joan, and her husband, Bill MacArthur, in 1991.
“There were only independent pharmacies in the ’60s and early ’70s,” Joan MacArthur said. “Then CVS and Walgreens came onto the South Shore scene in the ’70s.”
Today, large pharmacy chains span the U.S. The largest of them, CVS, has more than 7,600 stores.
Despite all the competition, Olden’s recently hit a milestone. It filled a prescription that was the 2 millionth since it began keeping track in the early ’80s.
To Joan MacArthur and her family, the milestone is a reminder of the hard work her parents, Fred and Patricia Hackett, did in their years of running the business.
Olden’s – clean and polished – is filled with merchandise that includes health products, greeting cards, souvenirs and sweatshirts with “Weymouth” written across the front. It has retained its primary customer base: generations of families from Weymouth and Hingham, Joan MacArthur said.
Mary Lou Dormon of South Weymouth, an Olden’s customer for 33 years, called the staff “wonderful.” She said they “talk to you about your illness because they’re friends, not just pharmacists.”
Tradition is important to the three owners of Olden’s, but so is staying modern and technologically up-to-date.
Olden’s has a ScriptPro robot that increases prescription-filling efficiency and decreases human error, Bill MacArthur said. Instead of a pharmacist having to fill a prescription by hand, the machine handles the task, right down to creating a label and printing a bar code.
To maximize traffic on the pharmacy’s website, Joan MacArthur creates educational blog posts on various health topics. She also manages Olden’s Facebook page.
In response to Medicare’s Medication Therapy Management (MTM) program, Olden’s decided to offer private health counseling. It has a small room for its counseling sessions.
“Pharmacists today have six-year degrees, so they’re qualified to do more than just refill prescriptions and offer simple, quick advice and consultation to the patient,” Joan MacArthur said. “We are doing that now. The future is expanding the advice and consultation to include the pharmacist, the patient and the prescriber.”
She expects customers to “demand more in-depth explanations of things. Google will provide information, but people will still want that verbal confirmation. With that said, pharmacies need to be that resource.”
Olden’s, she said, is “looking forward to the future.”
Original Article by Genevieve Olson; published in The Patriot Ledger on March 19, 2014