Process & Inventory

Losses Due to Drug Expiries: Process Issue, not Inventory Software Issue

Recently in a social media conversation, a Pharmacy director lamented the loss of over 500,000 naira due to expired drugs. That’s very significant for a retail pharmacy business and this is a huge challenge for pharmacy managers in Nigeria.

This can be due to several factors including economic indices that lower consumer buying power.

A close look at the problem of expiries due to losses also indicates that many pharmacies generally have a PROCESS ISSUE when it comes to inventory management.

Managers/Directors understand FIFO/FEFO (First in First out or first expiry first out) but do the staff who sell to customers all the time get this?

Do they arrange new inventory to aid this pattern of dispensing when restocking the shelves?

Let’s talk about inventory/Point of sale software

The average inventory software allows you to input batch numbers, expiry dates, and quantities for every medication procured and the aim of that is to issue reminders when such drugs are still left unsold say 6 months to expiry date depending on how it was set up.

Getting the best of such a feature requires its users to enter the correct information at all times as what you put in is what you get. Now imagine a staff who doesn’t understand this goal doing the entry after a round of procurement.

A lot of times managers assume that workers would adopt a commonsense approach and that things would just go well. Sadly that is not the case, processes must be defined clearly and monitored to ensure that they are strictly followed at all times.

When Inventory data is properly entered, the next important step is tracking that data and using it daily to prevent expiries

Having a tracking system to constantly pull up close expiries so as to sell them first is important and a staff needs to be assigned to do this perhaps monthly. 

Optimise Ordering and Restocking: Many pharmacy managers think hiring a dedicated staff for inventory management is not so cost-effective but the data suggests otherwise.

For example, if you lose up to a million naira every year from expiries then you probably would have been better off with a dedicated inventory manager or paying an existing staff to take that role.

An inventory manager can analyze your sales patterns and historical data to determine the optimal reorder points and quantities for each product. By ordering the right amount at the right time, you can minimize excess stock and reduce the risk of items expiring before they are sold.

Regular Stock Inspections: Conduct routine inspections of your inventory to identify items approaching their expiration dates. This allows you to prioritize their usage or sale, ensuring they are consumed before they become unsellable.

Some pharmacies assign shelves to their pharmacy staff and hold them responsible if a drug expires on the shelf.

Promotions and Discounts: If you have items nearing their expiration dates, consider running promotions or offering discounts to encourage their sale. This can help you move the products faster and reduce the risk of losses.

Sadly this doesn’t work for prescription drugs such as antibiotics as they can only be dispensed when absolutely needed.

Collaborate with Suppliers: Maintain open communication with your suppliers regarding product expiration dates. Request them to provide products with longer shelf lives or negotiate agreements for returns or exchanges of expired items.

Forecast Demand Accurately: Utilise historical sales data, market trends, and customer feedback to forecast demand more accurately. This will help you avoid overstocking items that have a high risk of expiring.

Your goal is to turn over your inventory as quickly as possible and not have them sit on shelves for long.

Don’t let process issues and expired drugs drain your profits. Click here to learn more about the best practices for efficient inventory management.


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  1. […] on a daily basis. Want to take control of your pharmacy’s inventory management today? Click here for more articles on selecting the perfect inventory management software for your […]

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