Thriving Through DIR Fees: Pathways to Pharmacy Sustainability

Explore ways to implement better purchasing strategies to reduce the formidable impact DIR fees can have on your pharmacy business.

Thriving Through DIR Fees: Pathways to Pharmacy Sustainability
Danielle Dinglasan

Danielle Dinglasan

Product Marketing Manager at SureCost

Pharmacies today face an array of financial and operational challenges, with Direct and Indirect Remuneration (DIR) fees standing out as a significant threat. These fees, once intended to drive better patient outcomes, now present a formidable challenge to pharmacy sustainability. 

The good news is, pharmacies can implement better purchasing strategies to reduce DIR fees and increase profitability.

Understanding the Evolution of DIR Fees

Initially conceived as a means to incentivize quality services and patient care, DIR fees have morphed into a complex financial hurdle for pharmacies. The evolution of these fees has exacerbated financial unpredictability, with pharmacies struggling to forecast costs and reimbursement rates accurately. Recent changes, including the upfront inclusion of DIR fees, have intensified financial strains, leading to operational cutbacks and reduced staff hours.

The Double Impact of DIR Fees

In 2024, pharmacies faced a double financial challenge with DIR fees, dealing with both retrospective fees from previous years and current year's point-of-sale fees. This change significantly impacted independent pharmacies, with a substantial majority reporting moderate to severe effects on their businesses.

Contract Changes and Increased Competition

The shifting environment of pharmacy reimbursement has forced pharmacies to navigate contract changes and heightened competition from Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). With diminished revenue and increased pressure to lower prices, pharmacies must innovate to maintain profitability while delivering quality care.

Impact of the DIR Hangover

The profound financial impact of DIR fees is evident in the substantial increase in pharmacy price concessions reported by CMS. As DIR fees continue to consume a significant portion of prescription revenue, pharmacies face heightened pressure to optimize operational margins.

5 Strategies to Offset DIR Fees Using Smarter Purchasing

To address the challenges posed by DIR fees, pharmacies should consider these five purchasing strategies:

  1. Leverage Strategic Insights: SureCost revolutionizes price comparison by consolidating vendor catalogs into a single platform, streamlining the purchasing process and uncovering savings opportunities beyond conventional procurement methods.
  2. Teaming Up with GPOs and Buying Groups: Joining Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs) and buying groups empowers pharmacies to access better pricing and terms, leveling the playing field against larger chains.
  3. Maximizing Rebates and Primary Vendor Relationships: SureCost emphasizes the value proposition of purchases beyond cost savings, guiding pharmacies in evaluating vendor reliability and long-term benefits.
  4. Ensuring Vendor Compliance: SureCost integrates Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) compliance seamlessly into pharmacy operations, ensuring adherence to regulatory requirements and minimizing operational disruptions.
  5. Optimizing Inventory Management: SureCost's Inventory Manager enables pharmacies to minimize waste, automate replenishment orders, and optimize stock levels, ultimately improving profits and offsetting the burden of DIR fees.

In the face of mounting financial pressures, pharmacies must adapt to survive and thrive. 

Smarter purchasing strategies and innovative solutions like SureCost enable pharmacies to not only offset the impact of DIR fees but also enhance productivity. As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, pharmacies that embrace innovation and strategic technology partnerships will emerge as leaders in the field.

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