Strasburg Pharmacy takes stance against big chains

Naresh Boini, pharmacy manager at Strasburg Pharmacy, dispenses a flu shot at the new independent pharmacy located in Cedar Creek Station north of town. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG — Just months after celebrating 100 years of business, Peoples Drug Store on King Street closed its doors permanently in 2016. Rite-Aid, which bought Peoples for an undisclosed amount, became the sole pharmacy in town.

Strasburg Pharmacy is trying to change that. The independent drug store opened its doors Sept. 21 at 33820 Old Valley Pike, and has a remedy to set itself apart from the competition.

The secret? Customizing the service to the patient.

“The retail chains — it’s one-size-fits-all. They provide a set of services and it’s not tailored to each patient,” said Naresh Boini, 37, Strasburg Pharmacy manager.

Recently, a local veterinarian called Boini about a stubborn, sick cat that refused to take its pills. The cat was losing weight and not eating properly. Boini broke out some syringes and whipped up a transdermal gel that would grant the full benefit of the medicine by just rubbing the gel on the cat’s ears.

Mixing ingredients to fit a particular patient’s dosage and intake needs — a process known as compounding — is one example of the customizable experience offered at Strasburg Pharmacy.

“The active ingredients (are) already available, I just put it in a form which is more convenient for the customer to take at a dose which is more customized for the customer to take,” Boini said.

Custom medicine packaging and after-hours delivery are other advantages Boini claims a small store has over a big chain. Boini has been personally handling deliveries, driving hand-packed medicine directly to patients’ homes.

After working at a major pharmaceutical chain for 12 years in Staunton, Boini craved the opportunity to “make more decisions about servicing my customers and patients without somebody … in Harrisonburg, Pennsylvania telling me how to run a pharmacy and how to service my patients.”

Leaving behind the security of a stable paycheck, Boini moved to Strasburg in July.

“My job is kind of unique in the sense that like, I get to meet people every day and I see those people out in the community too, when I go grocery shopping or go to the gym,” Boini said. “That’s the reason why I chose a smaller town to work in. Because it’s more personal than living in a big city, has a better feeling of community.”

Boini doesn’t anticipate drugs will be more expensive at Strasburg Pharmacy than at major pharmaceutical chains, largely because the medicine will be priced to give the independent pharmacy a slimmer profit on each sale.

“We just won’t make as much as money as the chains do,” Boini said. But to him, that’s okay. “This is a profession we chose to be in, not because of the money, but it’s something we’re passionate about doing.”

So far, business has been a “bit slow,” though Boini has not lost heart.

“People don’t make changes to their healthcare providers that easily,” Boini said. “So we’re hoping they’ll give us a chance, come down and try us out, because we are willing to go that extra mile.”