Coming from a long and varied career as a pharmacist, Teemu Kivijärvi is excited about his new pharmacy and the opportunity to develop services for customers. Tamro ensures that pharmaceuticals and health products find their way to the new pharmacy’s shelves. Tamro also assists the pharmacist in making product selections and training employees.
Teemu Kivijärvi received word last June that his pharmacy permit had been approved effective of early August 2020. That marked the start of a hectic 10 weeks, at the end of which his pharmacy, Lähiapteekki Järvenpää, opened in October.
- I believe that my excitement has been noticeable to customers and staff. The market situation in Järvenpää was favourable as local residents had hoped for a third pharmacy. This has given us a great opportunity to improve pharmacy services in the area, says Kivijärvi.
The Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea has set up 35 new pharmacies in Finland in the past five years. During the same period, it has issued around 70 to 90 pharmacy licences each year, including both new licences and renewals.
What is a pharmacy licence?
Operating a pharmacy in Finland requires a pharmacy licence issued by the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea. Fimea announces calls for new pharmacy licence applications and selects the applicant with the best overall merits. The recipient of a pharmacy licence must be a certified pharmacist. Pharmacy licences are issues for a specific area, within which the pharmacist is free to choose a business location. Generally, the licence area is a specific municipality.
Pharmacists may hold up to one pharmacy licence and three branch pharmacy licences at a time. With Fimea’s permission, pharmacists may also set up an online service and customer service points with certain conditions. The pharmacy licence entails several obligations. The most important of these is the duty to ensure the availability of pharmaceutical products.
Kivijärvi worked as a pharmacist in Voikkaa, Kouvola when Fimea announced a call for applications for a third licenced pharmacy in Järvenpää. He decided to and apply. Kivijärvi had applied for a pharmacy licence for the first time a few years earlier, mostly out of interest in the application process.
- Back when I began my studies, I didn’t dream of running my own pharmacy one day. My interest began to grow after working as a pharmacist for many years. I found that I enjoyed the job and could do it well, which motivated me to consider starting my own pharmacy.
Applying for a pharmacy licence was a natural next step in Kivijärvi’s career after some 15 years of experience in different duties as a pharmacist. He had worked in nearly a dozen different pharmacies and served as an expert for several pharmaceutical companies and had been involved in launching online pharmacies. The thought of tackling new challenges was appealing, and he had for long been intrigued by the idea of owning a business.
Putting practical matters in order
Starting a new pharmacy involves going through a long list of things to take care of. These include facilities, accounting, staff, website and cleaning and security services.
New pharmacies also need to sign a number of necessary contracts, including with the Social Insurance Institution Kela, Tamro and other pharmaceutical wholesalers, and Finnish Medicines Verification FiMVO. Sufficient time must be allowed for these as well as for business loan negotiations with banks.
- In order to be successful, pharmacies must establish and grow extensive networks of suppliers and partners. At the moment, I have 124 different businesses billing my pharmacy, Kivijärvi says.
Kivijärvi found suitable facilities in a building that had previously housed a pharmacy which had moved elsewhere after a change of ownership. Kivijärvi negotiated the lease, bought the furniture left behind by the previous tenants and renovated the premises before opening day.
In addition to Kivijärvi himself, the pharmacy employs 12 professionals. Seven of his staff are old employees from the previous pharmacy. In addition, the pharmacy employs temporary workers whenever necessary.
Active cooperation with Tamro
Shortly after opening, Lähiapteekki Järvenpää began to expand and develop its selection of products. Tamro has provided valuable support in these efforts.
- We began discussing with Tamro’s pharmacy representative how we could develop our product selection and what kind of cooperation we could engage in. Cooperating with Tamro has helped us develop our product categories and selection. For example, we have expanded our selection to include cosmetic products represented by Tamro.
According to Kivijärvi, the cooperation has been active from the start. His pharmacy has been offered information, webinars and training on topics such as the latest products on the market. His pharmacy in Järvenpää has also had access to custom-made training courses.
Day-to-day work at the pharmacy is aided by the MyTamro digital service channel, which can be used to easily check product information and real-time availability of items and pharmaceutical products.
Tamro’s representative helps realise the pharmacist’s vision
Teemu Kivijärvi values the regional marketing collaboration with Tamro’s pharmacy representative. His pharmacy has advertised Tamro’s products and campaigns in the local newspaper and on social media. The pharmacy representative offers special deals on campaign products, pays a part of the advertising costs and gives out products to social media giveaways and testers, for example.
- We have achieved very good sales results thanks to marketing cooperation and will continue to invest in the efforts going forward, says Kivijärvi.
Tamro’s pharmacy representative Eeva Räisänen also praises the active cooperation. According to her, working with the pharmacy has been systematic, straightforward, pleasant and fruitful from the start.
- Already in the initial discussions, it was evident that Teemu had plans to kickstart operations with an open mind and was open to expanding his product selection. He had a clear vision for the pharmacy and was already well acquainted with our products. My job was to identify the best products for the pharmacy and marketing campaigns, says Räisänen.
Only the best customer service
From the start, Kivijärvi has listened to customers’ wishes for longer opening hours for the pharmacy. Since then, he has continued to add new services for customers, including a video pharmacy, pick-up boxes at supermarkets and a home delivery service in cooperation with a local taxi operator.
To Kivijärvi, meeting with and helping customers is the best part of his work as a pharmacist.
- We have received an exceptional amount of positive feedback from customers – on a weekly basis if not more. It helps motivate us to put in even more effort for the pharmacy. I want to do what is best for local residents.
How Tamro helps new pharmacy customers
Eeva MöröKey Account Manager, Pharmacies and Hospitals
“We want to ensure smooth day-to-day operations for new pharmacies or following a change of owners. That’s why I personally get in touch with new pharmacists shortly after they have received their licence.
I ask whether the pharmacist has made progress with sales of pharmaceutical products and whether we at Tamro should start preparing contract papers. Our goal is for all necessary access rights and customer numbers to be ready by the time the pharmacist opens for business.
Tamro handles the necessary new accounts, customer numbers and access rights. Assisting pharmacists is also our service channel MyTamro, which can be used to place orders and search for detailed information about products and our services for new and relocating pharmacies. Product returns, complaints and suspected defects are also handled in MyTamro.”