Every day cancer patients suffer, not only because of the disease, but also the treatment. According to Glen Gormley, MD, PhD, president and chief executive officer of Gemin X Pharmaceuticals, some fascinating new drugs are coming that could significantly improve on available cancer treatments. “We are working on some exceptional, first-in-class compounds that offer opportunities for breakthrough targeted cancer therapies,” said Gormley, who is a physician by training, has a doctorate in chemistry, and was an executive with Merck, Astra Zeneca, and Novartis.

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In any industry, brand name products have an advantage over generic counterparts because of the logo on the box. At the same time, generic products have to be the same; by definition, they must be equivalent to each other and to the original innovator, which makes it hard to separate companies in the generic space. Necessary differentiation comes by offering an array of products no one else has or through a level of service that is unsurpassed. According to Kurt Orlofski, president of generic drug manufacturer Wockhardt USA, the only way to stand out in the generic space is simply to out-work the competition. 

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Here to help hospitals in the delicate balance between reducing overall costs and providing high quality care is CompleteRx, an 11-year-old pharmacy management services provider based in Houston, Texas. Terry Andrus, founder and president, started the company with only one hospital partner, and today works with more than 20 hospitals in nine states. Janet Schretlen-Doherty, clinical project manager, and Julie Rubin, clinical education coordinator, say the company’s success comes from a belief in teamwork and the philosophy of bringing pharmacists out of the basement and onto the floors.     

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Sure, Steven MacDonald is the founder and CEO of myMatrixx , a Tampa, Fla.-based pharmacy services company, but he’s hardly at the top of its org chart. That cherished spot is reserved for someone much more integral to the company’s remarkable success: the customer. “We put the customer at the top, not an individual, because we’re not a business-centric company—we’re a customer-centric company,” said MacDonald, who launched the thriving company in 2001.

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HD Smith Wholesale Drug Company was founded in 1954 in Springfield, Ill. as a regional, wholesale drug distributor, but it’s become much more in the ensuing 56 years of challenge and opportunity. Chris Smith, president, COO and one of the company’s second-generation co-leaders, said diversification and value-added services have become key elements of HD Smith’s business strategy, but that above all else, the company’s commitment to customer service has been the key ingredient to its success.

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By focusing on building relationships with its customers, Southern Pharmacy has become a leading provider of pharmacy services to long-term care facilities in North Carolina and surrounding states. The company’s back-to-basics approach began in the back of an old grocery store only seven years ago, according to Marybeth Terry, pharmacy director and founder.

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Most companies strive for a healthy and manageable rate of growth—maybe 5% to 10% a year, or 20% if they’re really ambitious. For Prescription Solutions, a UnitedHealth Group company, such growth rates are relatively tame. Over the past five years, the Irvine, Calif.-based company has grown annual revenue ten-fold: from $1.6 billion in 2005 to a projected $16.5 billion in 2010 on membership growth of 5.4 million people. During this time, its volume of total adjusted prescriptions has more than tripled: from 105 million to 350 million annually.

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In recent years, healthcare practitioners on all levels have grown increasingly aware of what can happen when a patient receives the wrong drug or dosage. Tragic outcomes have become all too common, and administrators widely recognize the need for renewed vigilance. Much can go wrong in drug administration systems for one basic reason: there’s a lot of room for human error. From an illegibly written prescription to an automation device that’s easy to misread, potential problems abound, leaving managers with many reasons to worry.

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