Getting rid of a little extra clutter never hurt anyone. Pharmacy inventory management is an essential element of your small business’s day-to-day operations. Whether you’re looking from a healthcare or financial standpoint, having a medication upon request is what a pharmacy is all about.

As we enter a holiday season full of seasonal vaccines and vacation overrides, ensure that your independent pharmacy has all the medications, vaccines, and medical supplies that your community will need.

You’re a healthcare destination, after all — planning ahead is what you do.

Why You Should Focus on Pharmacy Inventory Management  

In essence, your pharmacy is only as good as its inventory (and the services it provides). You’re running a business after all, so ordering too much of something or not having enough will negatively affect your bottom line.

What’s more, your patients are more likely to stay with your independent pharmacy if you reliably stock some pharmaceutical essentials.

To quote a study conducted by the International Journal of Innovative Science and Research Technology, “an effective inventory management program can lead to uncompromising patient care at primary health care.”

Mastering the art of phramacy inventory management benefits both your business and your patients, making it the lucrative healthcare destination it’s destined to be.

Here’s how you can do it:

1. Look Out For Your Deadstock

Many medications fly off the pharmacy shelves throughout the day, but others might sit and gather dust. There are several reasons why this could be the case.

It could be a medication made by a manufacturer or wholesaler that most insurances won’t cover.

It could be a medication that newly became over-the-counter, so prescribing it is basically pointless. Submit a return order and be done with it.

It could be a very specialized drug that no insurance would cover nor is it in much that demand.

Regardless of why it’s there, that dusty bottle is taking up some much-needed shelf space. Examine how certain drugs are traveling through the pharmacy and determine whether you should start a return.

As a general rule of thumb, you should be in the clear if that bottle is gathering dust. Ship it away.

2. Verify Your On-Hands Frequently  

The idea of downtime is something of a luxury in a pharmacy, but it’s there. Your rush hour will eventually pass by. Use those few moments to take a much-needed breath, maybe even a drink of water, and then take some stock — of your independent pharmacy’s inventory.

Your pharmacy software system should have on-hand verification capabilities so you can instantly update your pharmacy’s inventory at a moment’s notice.

Regularly checking your inventory will also make the annual inventory check a much smoother process. Avoid the inevitable headaches by looking through your shelves every once in a while. Your future self will thank you for it.

3. Be Mindful of Your Loans/Partial Fills

Shortages come in all shapes and sizes. For instance, you might be waiting for a doctor’s authorization for a refill, but it’s been more than a week and the patient is out of their medication. Giving out loaners is a regular occurrence, whether it’s because of a doctor’s latent response or because your pharmacy doesn’t have the medication in question.

Loaners and partial fills do add up, however. Keep track of which medications tend to be loaned out and order an extra bottle or two to prevent you from running out.

The solution is definitely not to stop giving out loaners entirely — except for controlled medications of course. That’s legally out of the question.

4. Look at Your Expired Medications

These are the medications that stay on your shelves well past their sell-by date. Keep in mind that most manufacturers or wholesalers do not give even partial credit for returning expired medications.

As such, make sure you stay on top of expired medications. Perhaps make a rule to pull any bottles that are a month or two away from expiring. It’s easy to let things sit while handling a hectic workflow, so keep a deliberate eye on how you’re filling your shelves.

How Your Pharmacy Software System Should Help in Pharmacy Inventory Management

Though inventory management does require you to perform certain tasks manually, you should have a right-hand man in the form of your pharmacy software system.

For example, while you do have to find bottles that are near their expiration date, your software should log and document that information.

Your pharmacy software system should also see things that are unseen. It should provide accurate information on how often a certain drug is being dispensed. It should produce detailed reports on your most used drugs and which ones are falling by the wayside.

Your pharmacy software system should also make automated orders. Whether it be widely used maintenance medications or drugs that the nearby urgent care almost always prescribes, your software should be proactive in filling your shelves the right way.

You can look up a list of the 100 most-dispensed medications for general reference, though you’ll benefit more from seeing what your patients are ordering.


It’s essential to run your independent pharmacy as efficiently as possible.

Pharmacy inventory management is a vital part of ensuring your pharmacy is operating at an optimal level. Every independent pharmacy is different from one another, so create a pharmacy inventory management system that is tailored to your specific needs.

Don’t forget that your pharmacy software system should make this process easier and more efficient. If you find that your software system is unable to catch up with your needs, consider looking for greener pastures.