Skip to Content

Pharmacist of the Year Ira Katz: ‘We are hands on’

Pharmacist of the Year Ira Katz: ‘We are hands on’

ATLANTA – Owning and operating an independent community pharmacy has allowed Ira Katz to maintain his love for retail. 

“As a kid, I worked in clothing stores – I love retail,” said Katz, a pharmacist and owner of Little Five Points Pharmacy in Atlanta, which he opened 40 years ago. “I couldn’t think of a better career than to open a pharmacy.” 

Katz was recently named the 2021 Willard B. Simmons Independent Pharmacist of the Year by the National Community Pharmacists Association. He spoke with HME News recently about the symbiotic relationship between pharmacist and patient – and one of his first big decisions as an independent pharmacist. 

HME News: You’ve been in pharmacy 40 years. Have you seen a lot of change? 

Ira Katz: When I first opened, it was like a general store, there were no Targets or Walmarts. I offered hardware. Shortly after the first year, I said to my brother, “I need something new and different.” He said, “Get into the video business.” So, one of my early big decisions was VHS vs. betamax. Renting videos was great for bringing people in and out. 

HME: Do you feel it’s important these days to offer a full range of pharmacy services? 

Katz: A large part of my business comes from the front end. I recognized a long time ago, the margins in the prescription department (are not there). Prices are going through the roof, the PBMs are beating us to a pulp. HME is great – I don’t do oxygen and beds – and there aren’t that many HME places around. The customers can feel, touch and purchase the equipment. If I don’t have exactly what they want, I can order it. In my opinion, the hot market is natural supplements and vitamins, organic products like bamboo and health and beauty aids, things that have less chemicals. We’re located in a progressive area where people are looking for alternatives.  

HME: Pharmacists are widely considered to be one of the most trusted professionals. Is trust important to being a successful independent pharmacist? 

Katz: Especially as an independent community pharmacy, we are hands on, communicating with our patients. That’s critical. We know young people like to purchase everything online, but I think they realize the value of having someone who they trust. I can’t offer a 90-day supply for $6 and they know that, but they are willing to pay a little more to have access to me. I appreciate that and they appreciate me. I call it a symbiotic relationship. 

HME: It sounds like pharmacy has been a great fit for you? 

Katz: I have a lot of pharmacy students who rotate through and I say to them, “You are entering into a great career.” When I get into the car at the end of a business day, I ask, “Did I make a difference in somebody’s life, however small?”


To comment on this post, please log in to your account or set up an account now.