Question & Answer

Sunday, March 31, 2002

Respiratory pioneer: 'I still have a few years left'

RAINSVILLE, Ala. - Roy Sanderson doesn't fish. Doesn't golf. And isn't ready to retire, even if he is "old enough to quit." Over the past 38 years, Sanderson has operated and sold a retail pharmacy, an HME and most recently, in 1997, a mail-order respiratory pharmacy. Last year, after a couple of years of semi-retirement, he started back full time with his sons, who own and operate ABC Plus, a respiratory pharmacy in Rainsville. "This is kind of my hobby," Sanderson said last month. "I enjoy working with my sons and enjoy people and the relationships that we build through business. I think I still have a few years left." HME News spent a few minutes with Sanderson last month to get his take on the respiratory medication market, then and now.

HME: First, how did you get into this business back in 1990?

ROY SANDERSON: That was when the breathing machines, the hand-held nebulizers, were really coming into their own, and there was a need for the medications. We started special mixing medications for doctors who wanted different strengths and additives put into the medications, and we kept growing until we were shipping all over the United States.

HME: Pharmacies complain about being forced to provide Dey's DuoNeb, a mixture of albuterol and ipratropium, even though with Medicare's current reimbursement they lose money. How do you think this controversy will end?

SANDERSON: Dey is trying to recoup its money, but I think they will lower the price. They will eventually see that the market will not tolerated the price they now have.

HME: Over the years, how has the industry changed for the better?

SANDERSON: Prices have become better. They are much more competitive. When we started buying commercially available albuterol, we were paying 58 cents a vial and now the price is down around 20 cents a vial. I can see this happening to the DuoNeb.

HME: How has the industry changed for the worse?

SANDERSON: There is more regulations now compared to when I first started. But you need the regulations. You need the people who are operating ethically and legally to be able to compete, and if there are bad eggs out there, they need to be out of the business."