Distribution pharmacies: the in's and out's

By Sangni Qu

A distribution pharmacy serves outpatient facilities throughout a region. It provides a full gamut of medicines: oral, topical and injectable. The injectable drugs are both sterile and chemo-therapy types. The pharmacy is not linked to a specific campus and is easily accessible to delivery vehicles.

Such distribution pharmacies are comprised of three components: operations, sterile compounding center, and warehouse.

The flow of the finished product starts with the delivery of the therapy components and supplies at the loading dock at the warehouse. Members of the warehouse staff pull the pallets in and start breaking down the raw materials. The product is stored on the shelves and finally reach the Quick Pick storage area, where the most frequently used ingredients are stored. This will be their final destination before being picked and transferred to the pharmacy for compounding.

In the operational team, the pharmacists take in orders from patients and prescription paperwork is created and transmitted to the Staging area. The orders will be simultaneously transmitted to the assembly line in the Warehouse where the staff picks the supply for compounding the pharmacy product.

The supplies then are transferred to the Staging room. Injectables are compounded in the Clean or Chemo room. The finished product is verified by the pharmacists in the Verification area before being transferred to the Warehouse through pass-through refrigerators. The staff assembles the drugs according to the patient’s order. Once all prescriptions have been collected, they are packed and shipped to the patients. There are two linear paths in the warehouse, one is breaking down the supplies, and the other is packing the finished products for shipping and delivery. The supply flow and delivery flow are segregated without cross coverage. The diagram below sums up the entire workflow of a distribution pharmacy.