How to Start a Pharmacy Business in the Philippines

By Yesh Quijano    May 6, 2024       min read

Key Takeaways:

  • There are nine steps toward a successful and profitable pharmacy business in the Philippines. For specific details, you can read more below.
  • The Philippine pharmaceutical industry is growing by 6–8% annually, creating an opportunity for business-minded people to start a pharmacy business.
  • Excellent customer service, delivery services, and creative marketing strategies will set you apart.

The pharmacy industry is vital to the Philippine economy, providing millions of Filipinos with essential medicines and healthcare products.

The sector has increased in recent years, with a projected annual growth rate of 6% to 8%. A growing population, an aging population, and a rising awareness of the value of preventive healthcare drive this growth.

If you are considering becoming a pharmacy business owner, this article will give you all the information and steps needed to create a thriving and profitable pharmacy in the Philippines.

Understanding the Philippine Pharmaceutical Industry

In the Philippine pharmaceutical industry, regulatory bodies play a vital role in ensuring the quality and safety of pharmaceutical products. The primary regulatory agency is the Food and Drug Administration or FDA, responsible for evaluating, registering, and monitoring these products.

The Philippine Pharmacists Association (PPhA), a professional organization for pharmacists, sets standards and promotes the pharmacy profession.

Understanding these regulatory bodies is crucial when starting a pharmacy business. Compliance with their guidelines is essential for a successful and legally compliant operation.

How to Start a Pharmacy in the Philippines: Step-by-Step Guide

how to start a pharmacy business in the philippines

Step 1: Do Your Research

This includes researching the market, the competition, and the regulatory requirements. You need to understand the demand for pharmacy services in your area and the prices and products offered by your competitors. Ensure that you provide quality generic medicines and also familiarize yourself with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements for pharmacy openings.

Step 2. Secure Necessary Capital

Consider getting a bank loan to get the money you need to start your own pharmacy business. You can also look into other ways to get the required cash, such as grants or savings. Look at the terms and requirements of each option to find the best way to get the cash you need. You need enough money to pay for inventory, equipment, licensing fees, and operating costs. This will give your pharmacy business a solid financial foundation.

Step 3: Choose a business structure

When starting a pharmacy business, you have three business structure options:

Sole Proprietorship: You have complete control and responsibility for the business, but you are personally liable for anything that goes wrong.

Partnership: Share ownership, responsibilities, and profits with people you know and trust. Set up clear agreements to handle possible disagreements.

Corporation: Form a separate legal entity with limited liability protection. Consider legal requirements and potential for future growth.

After determining the business structure for your pharmacy, you have two options to establish your presence in the market:

  1. Establish your brand: Give yourself a unique identity, tailor your services to the people you want to reach and set yourself apart. This helps people remember your brand and keep coming back. However, it takes a lot of time, work, and money.
  2. Consider a pharmacy franchise. Explore franchising a reputable drugstore brand like The Generics Pharmacy, Rose Pharmacy, or Southstar Drug. You can benefit from advantages such as brand recognition and support systems by using their established name, proven business model, and existing customer base. But it’s essential to follow the rules set by the franchisor and meet the financial obligations that come with franchising.

Evaluate the advantages, challenges, and long-term goals associated with each option. Consider your resources, desired control, and financial risks. Establish a successful pharmacy business by consulting legal and financial experts.

Step 4: Create a Pharmacy Business Plan

A business plan is a written document describing your business goals, strategies, and plans to achieve them. It is a valuable tool for entrepreneurs, as it can help you to clarify your thoughts, identify potential risks, and attract investors.

The business plan should be created after you have done your research, as it will be based on the information you have gathered about the market, the competition, and the regulatory requirements.

Step 5: Location and Store Setup

pharmacy interior

Choosing the right location for your pharmacy is critical for its success. Consider the following factors when selecting a pharmacy location, its accessibility, foot traffic, ideal location, prime location, and good location.

  1. Accessibility: Ensure your pharmacy is easily accessible to your target market, preferably in a busy commercial area or near hospitals and clinics.
  2. Size and Layout: Determine the size and layout of your pharmacy, considering the available space for the dispensary, storage, consultation area, and customer waiting area.
  3. Equipment and Supplies: Supply your pharmacy with medical-grade storage units and tools. These include dispensing counters, computer systems, inventory management software, refrigeration units, and pharmaceutical supplies. Maintaining medication quality and integrity requires an efficient, well-equipped workspace.

Step 6: Obtain the Necessary Licenses and Permits

You must obtain legal requirements such as licenses and other documents to legally operate a pharmacy in the Philippines. Here are the essential licenses and permits you need to acquire:

  1. FDA License: Apply for a License to Operate (LTO) from the FDA, ensuring your pharmacy complies with all the necessary regulations and standards. You can check out the FDA’s specific requirements for licensing pharmacies and drugstores here.
  2. Business Name Registration: Register your pharmacy as a business entity with the appropriate government agencies, such as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
  3. Register with BIR: Register your pharmacy with the Bureau of Internal Registration and obtain a Tax Identification Number (TIN)
  4. Local Government Permits: Obtain the necessary permits from the local government unit (LGU) where your pharmacy will be. This may include a Mayor’s Permit, Barangay Clearance, and other permits required by the LGU.
  5. Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) License: If you plan to have a licensed pharmacist, ensure they have a valid PRC license.

Step 7: Source Quality Products

Set up strong relationships with trustworthy suppliers to offer quality generic medicines. This ensures that high-quality healthcare products are always available and gives your customers affordable and reliable options. You can improve your customers’ satisfaction and reputation by adding more services to your pharmacy and becoming a trusted source for affordable and effective treatments.

Step 8: Hire Professional Staff

Building a competent and customer-oriented team is essential for the smooth operation of your pharmacy. Consider the following steps:

  1. Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians: Hire licensed pharmacists and trained pharmacy technicians with the knowledge and skills to provide accurate medication dispensing and patient counseling.
  2. Customer Service Skills: Train your staff to deliver excellent customer service, including effective communication, product knowledge, and empathy toward customers’ needs.
  3. Continuing Education: Encourage your staff, especially pharmacists, to participate in continuous education programs, workshops, and seminars to stay updated with the latest advancements in the pharmaceutical field. This helps ensure they provide your customers with the best care and guidance.

Step 9: Market your drugstore business

Develop a well-rounded marketing plan to promote your pharmacy. Create a website, use social media, and advertise locally. Plan events and promotions to attract customers and increase brand recognition. Actively participate in community initiatives to build trust and strengthen your presence.

Additional tips for a successful pharmacy business:

woman in black shirt and face mask holding an alcohol in a pharmacy
  • Focus on excellent customer service. Focus on exceptional customer service by providing personalized assistance and ensuring knowledgeable and courteous staff. Create a welcoming atmosphere where customers feel valued.
  • Offer delivery services. This is a great way to make it more convenient for customers to get their prescriptions and other products. You can offer delivery through a third-party service or your drivers. Pickup services are also a great way to accommodate customers who cannot visit your pharmacy during regular business hours.
  • Target potential customers. Who are your ideal customers? What are their needs and wants? Once you know your target market, you can tailor your marketing and product selection to appeal to them. For example, if you’re targeting parents of young children, you might stock a wider variety of baby essentials.
  • Transform your pharmacy into a one-stop shop. Offer a wide range of products at your pharmacy to make it a one-stop shop. Stock up on hygiene products, health supplies, and everyday items to attract a wide range of customers looking for health remedies and people who need personal care items. This plan will help you get more customers, which will help your business grow.
  • Compete with other pharmacies. Be aware of the competition in your area and offer competitive prices and services. You can also differentiate your pharmacy by offering unique products or services.

It’s a wrap!

Congratulations! You already know how to open a pharmacy in the Philippines. You’re ready to start your pharmacy with the industry’s market, licensing, location, inventory, staff hiring, compliance, and success tips.

Starting a business requires dedication, perseverance, and constant learning. Be proactive, adapt, and prioritize customer satisfaction. Your pharmacy can succeed in the dynamic Philippine market with the right strategies and quality healthcare.

About the author 

Yesh Quijano

Yesh Quijano is an entrepreneur and digital marketer who's been in the game for over 11 years. He started several businesses and helped countless others reach new heights. His goal is to make digital marketing for SMEs simple, accessible, and effective. When he's not working, you can find him cuddling with his two cats.

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