Throughout his pharmacy career, Kyle McCormick saw patients struggle to pay for their medications and he felt the pressure as insurance companies put the squeeze on pharmacies.
So he decided to do something to remedy the situation. On March 20, he opened Blueberry Pharmacy which provides members with low-cost meds with no insurance needed. McCormick likens it to a medicinal version of Aldi.
Located in West View Plaza in West View, the tiny store offers all the services of a typical pharmacy, including delivery and shipping. McCormick also provides medication reviews and price consultations.
A prescription is needed, of course. McCormick says transferring a prescription requires a quick call to Blueberry Pharmacy at 412-612-2279. He also runs e-prescribing platforms so patients can ask their doctors to send new prescriptions or refills to the pharmacy. Blueberry is open Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
While anyone can shop the pharmacy, memberships offer additional savings. One option costs $8.99 a month or $89.99 a year. Typically, everyone who signs up gets the first month free. During the coronavirus crisis, patients can get a free six-month membership.
“Everything we do is based on ‘cost plus’ pricing, meaning a patient pays what we pay plus a dispensing fee,” McCormick says. “For our members, the fee is just $3. So patients can pay what we pay plus $3. Since many generic medications cost just pennies, we’re able to bring patients’ costs down significantly. Just today I spoke to someone whose insurance was going to charge her $200-plus for a 90-day supply of a generic medication. The same medication here only costs $27 as a non-member and or $17 as a member.”
Since everyone is housebound, the pharmacy provides free delivery services within the following zip codes: 15229, 15202,15212, 15214 and almost all of 15237. It will ship medications anywhere.
McCormick lives in nearby McCandless with his wife, Pam (a fellow pharmacist who practices in the emergency room at UPMC Mercy) and their 1-year-old son. He decided to open in West View due to the area’s high population density, middle-to-upper age population and proximity to health care provider offices.
Tired of traditional pharmacy names, the couple wanted something that sounded fresh and healthy.
What’s it like opening a new venture in the middle of a pandemic?
“It’s definitely been a challenge. I’ve been planning the pharmacy for over a year. People just aren’t out and about as much, which has made discovery a challenge,” says McCormick, a Somerset native and 2014 University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy graduate. “The thing is, every small business is feeling the same pressure and challenges during this time. Which is why it is more important than ever to support small businesses.”