Archive for Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Start-up company heading to town

January 10, 2001

A company that would provide mail-order pharmaceuticals with a twist hopes to open this year in Tonganoxie's Urban Hess Business Center.

Right Choice Pharmacy plans to construct a 10,000-square-foot building in Urban Hess, according to co-owner Jim Aldrich.

The structure would be similar to the existing building in the business park that is operated by Everlasting Specialties.

Aldrich, an accountant in Council Grove, and his wife, Connie, a pharmacist, have teamed up with a Wichita couple to launch the new business. They decided on Tonganoxie because of its proximity to Kansas City International Airport and ground transportation.

"And it's close to wholesalers," Aldrich said. "Tonganoxie's close to Kansas City, and real estate costs are reasonable."

Aldrich explained that the new business would contract with pharmacies to fill prescriptions.

"It's not a retail outlet at all," he said. "It's for maintenance medication. The individual will be allowed to take their prescriptions to one of the participating pharmacies across the state. That prescription will then be forwarded to us by satellite."

Using automation, Right Choice will fill the prescription and send it by courier to the pharmacy.

"You would pick it up the next day at your local pharmacy," Aldrich said.

The process has one advantage over obtaining prescriptions through the mail the pharmacist would be available to counsel patients about the drugs they are taking.

"Unless your mailman's pretty astute, you're missing that (with mail-order prescriptions)," Aldrich said. "And your prescriptions don't sit out in the mailbox all day in 120-degree heat or below-freezing temperatures.

"We're looking for a way to keep community pharmacies in the loop and give better service to the public at a reduced cost. Obviously, it's cheaper to fill a prescription through automation than it is with a pharmacist sitting back there filling pills."

The number of employees required in Tonganoxie would depend on how many contracts Right Choice is able to secure with pharmacies, large employers and insurance companies.

Gary Carlson, executive director of Leavenworth Area Development, which owns the business park, said he's hopeful construction could begin in March.

"The pharmaceutical project is exciting because they have the prospect of having as many as 100 jobs in the near term," Carlson said. "I think that's a 'wow.'"

Aldrich said he and his partners have been working on the concept for several years. Recently, they received approval from the state board of pharmacy.

"It's tough because it's a totally new entity," he said. "There's nothing like it. There's no category or classification that we fit into. So the state board had to look at it from all legal aspects. They're behind our project, which is unusual."

Leavenworth banker Harley Russell, who is a former pharmacist, said he's excited about the new company, calling Aldrich and his partners "pioneers."

"On so many of your mail-order prescription programs, the patient loses touch with a pharmacist," said Russell, executive vice president at MidAmerica Bank and Trust Co. "This keeps your family pharmacist involved with your medications."

City administrator Chris Clark said he's been in touch with the builder and architect for Right Choice, in an effort to ensure the development process is a smooth one. He said the city should receive final plans for the building early next week. Later in the week, the city's Site Review Committee likely will meet to review the documents.

"Provided the Site Review Committee approves them with minimal conditions, they would be forwarded on for a building permit," Clark said.

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