Buying Groups: What You Need to Know

By Pete Starfas

Independent pharmacies face unique challenges in an evolving and increasingly challenging pharmacy landscape. Competing chains have high prescription volume, giving them power when negotiating the cost of drugs with wholesalers. If you are an independent pharmacist feeling lost in bringing your drug costs down or standing out in the market, learn more about buying groups below.

What is a buying group?

A buying group consists of independent pharmacies joined together in negotiating the cost of drugs with a wholesaler. The combined purchasing power of their members allows buying groups to bring strength to negotiations with wholesalers. 

There are different types of buying groups. Some are regional and based on location. Others limit their membership to specific segments of pharmacies. EPIC Pharmacies is a national buying group with members across the country.

What are the benefits of joining a buying group?

Lower cost of drugs

Buying groups create negotiation power for smaller community pharmacies to lower the cost of drugs. With a higher level of buying power, they can negotiate a better deal. Joining a buying group can benefit local, independent pharmacies that don’t have the purchase volume, time, or expertise to negotiate with wholesalers.

Expertise in negotiations

Buying groups have experts on staff who negotiate and review contracts for you. The experts know what to look for and what to say to ensure you’re receiving the best deal possible. The expertise of contract specialists or negotiators creates peace of mind for many pharmacy owners.

Save time and money

As an independent pharmacy owner, you likely have a lot on your plate. Your biggest priority is always your patients. Joining a buying group allows for more time to create meaningful relationships with your patients. Think about all the time you would save by having experts review your contracts, negotiate your cost of drugs, and advocate for your best interests. All while saving money.


Buying groups will advocate on behalf of their independent pharmacies. They often support candidates and influence legislation that benefits local pharmacies and their communities. Independent pharmacies coming together creates influence. The group will use its’ voice to address important issues affecting independent pharmacies.

Compete in the marketplace

You can compete in the marketplace by joining other independent pharmacies to negotiate with wholesalers. Community pharmacies, like larger chain pharmacies, can receive a lower cost of drugs. Some buying groups offer added tools and services to help independent pharmacies stand out in the marketplace.

Being a member of EPIC Rx comes with several benefits for independent pharmacies. Our buying group handles wholesaler generic rebates and contract negotiations for you. We also give our members resources to have a successful business. Our EPIC Rx members receive exclusive vendor discounts, important industry news, and guidance on how EPIC Rx can best assist. Cyberattack insurance coverage and legislative representation are also included at no extra cost.

As an independent pharmacist, it can be challenging to balance it all. Tommy Thompson, Owner of Mechanicsville Drug Store and EPIC Rx member since the 1980s, says, “EPIC Rx helps our business in so many different ways: claims, adjudication, buying. Anybody who thinks they can do that as one store is fooling themselves.” Let the experts help you. Consider joining a buying group to save yourself time and money. And have peace of mind.

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Pete Starfas

Pete Starfas came to EPIC Pharmacies with more than 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. As our Vice President of Contracts and Trade Relations, he is responsible for managing all generic and vendor contracts.