- KFOR.com: Business booming at Newcastle Drug Co. — Customers coming from as far off as New Jersey
- ALI MEYER reports
Updated: August 5, 2003 10:26 PM
NEWCASTLE, OK. — We all want the best deal when it comes to buying the things we need most, such as prescription drugs. And, most of us know we can save a little if we buy generics instead of the name brand prescriptions.
Earlier this year, Oklahoma’s NewsChannel 4 told you about a small town pharmacy that’s out-pricing all the big name stores.
We checked with more than a dozen metro pharmacies and some of them were charging $200 or more per medicine.
Well, we’ve been keeping up with Newcastle Drug since our story first aired. Now, two months after they got their first taste of the spotlight, there’s already a lot changing.
They still share the strip with an antique store, but that’s about the only thing that hasn’t changed at Newcastle Drug.
“It starts at 9 a.m. and there’s people in the lobby all day long, all day long,” said Kay Sauer, co-owner of the pharmacy.
Most days you’ll wait at least 30 minutes for your script. And, there are times when it’ll take 30 minutes just to drop them off.
“Since we were on television before our prescriptions per day have doubled,” Kay Sauer said.
The extra business has forced Newcastle Drug to make some big changes. In the past six weeks they’ve doubled their square-footage and added 35 employees and four phone lines.
“We still have to yell every so often, ‘Answer the phone!!!’ ”
You might think, with all this attention Newcastle Drug pharmacist and owner George Sauer would relax his prices, maybe try to squeeze out a little bigger cut. So, we did some more checking. We compared the Newcastle Drug price with neighborhood competitors.
George still has the lowest prices around. For the popular blood pressure medication, Hytrin, George prices the generic 3- to 7-times lower than anyone else. But, we uncovered something else about the Newcastle price — George Sauer is also responsible for bringing down the cost at several other pharmacies.
The nearby Wal-Mart and Eckerd both agreed to match the Newcastle price. Only Walgreens told us they wouldn’t come down.
But, there are some not-so-pleasant side effects about selling the cheapest drugs around. Kay and George Sauer believe they’re being targeted by other pharmacists.
The pharmacy board made a surprise stop at Newcastle Drug a week after our first story broke. It was the second inspection in less than a year.
“They just flat told us someone turned us in because we were buying our medicine from Canada,” Kay Sauer said. “Well, it’s not the truth.”
According to the report, inspectors gave Newcastle Drug a clean bill.
“We just look at it like they’re jealous,” she said. “That we are making a mark. We are making a difference.”
Because the Sauers think everyone should be able to buy at the Newcastle price, “This is our new mail order department,” Kay said, Newcastle Drug will mail prescriptions to any city in Oklahoma.
But, word spreads quickly, and it didn’t take long for the Sauers to realize their reputation had crossed state lines.
“We did have a man call us from New Jersey,” Kay Sauer said. “How he heard about us, I don’t know.”
Fairmeds.com was born out of that overwhelming response. “So that other people will be allowed to get their prescriptions at the lowest price,” said Noell, a worker at the pharmacy.
For $10 a month anyone in the world can log on, or call in and fill their prescriptions at the Newcastle price.
“We hope this will take some of the burden off Newcastle Drug because they can call in and order drugs online and they don’t have to go over there and stand in line and wait for a long time for their prescriptions,” said Kathleen, another pharmacy worker.
Right now, the daily record for prescriptions filled stands at 685. But, with the help of some new technology and a new approach to the neighborhood pharmacy, the Sauers expect to hang up a new record soon.
“Well, I guess we’re just too stubborn,” Kay Sauer said. “We’re going to be here. We’ve been here for 32 years. We’ll be here for another 30 years, hopefully.”
Just a few weeks ago, George Sauer and fairmeds.com added another pharmacy into the mix. Because Newcastle Drug has been so overwhelmed with business, they’ve decided to open a closed-door pharmacy. It will have the same prices as Newcastle Drug, but it will not be open to the public. Their only function will be to fill scripts for fairmeds.com.