This text is a excerpt taken from The SuccessfulChinese Herbalist: How to Prescribe Correctly, Gain Patient Compliance, and Operate a Profitable Dispensary by Bob Flaws and Honora Lee Wolfe, 2005. Read more at
Chapter 11: How to Start a Successful Ready-Made Formula Pharmacy
by Bob Flaws & Honora Lee Wolfe
Some new practitioners don't set up a pharmacy right away because they're not sure what to do or buy in what order. If you have never had your own business before, there=s a lot to think about, and a pharmacy may not be your first priority. However, if all you offer is acupuncture, then your income is limited by the number of patients you can see in the number of hours you can work. If you also sell your patients other goods and services (which they need and are good for them), then you make a profit on those items as well. In addition, herbal medicines are consumables, which means they are something the patient must usually buy more than once. Setting up an in-house pharmacy or dispensary also has the benefit of providing one-stop shopping for your patients, and, depending upon what lines of products you sell, this may help you set yourself off from your competitors.
Starting a ready-made formula dispensary
Until and unless we feel very confident about our skills writing customized prescriptions, most of us start our dispensaries with a line of ready-made medicines. These ready-made medicines can be either Asian or American made. Typically, Asian-made ready-made pills are pretty low potency, but have of advantage of being inexpensive and easy to store. However they may not be very effective for remedial treatment at the bottle-suggested doses. Asian-made extract granules are higher potency. These come in either loose "powder" form or encapsulated. Already encapsulated extract powders range in potency from 3:1 to 15:1. Most American-made Chinese herbal pills are also made out of extracts. However, exactly what potency must be determined from your supplier. In any case, I recommend that you start with the following classical formulas, all of which you should have studied in school:
Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang (Supplement the Center & Boost the Qi Pills): Liver-spleen disharmony
Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San (Moutan & Gardenia Rambling Pills): Liver-spleen disharmony w/ blood vacuity & depressive heat
Du Huo Ji Sheng Wan (Angelica Pubescens & Loranthus Pills): Wind, cold, damp impediment
Er Xian Wan (Two Immortals Pills): Yin & yang dual vacuity w/ vacuity heat
Er Chen Wan (Two Aged [Ingredients] Pills): Phlegm dampness
Gui Pi Wan (Restore the Spleen Pills): Heart-spleen dual vacuity
Huang Lian Jie Du Wan (Coptis Resolve Toxins Pills): Damp heat, replete heat, heat toxins
Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan (Golden Cabinet Kidney Qi Pills): Kidney yin & yang vacuity
Liu Jun Zi Wan (Six Gentlemen Pills): Spleen qi vacuity w/ dampness
Liu Wei Di Huang Wan (Six Flavors Rehmannia Pills): Kidney yin vacuity
Si Jun Zi Wan (Four Gentlemen Pills): Spleen qi vacuity
Suan Zao Ren Wan (Zizyphus Spinosa Pills): Liver blood vacuity, vacuity, disquieted spirit
Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan (Heavenly Emperor Supplement the Heart Elixir): Heart qi & yin vacuity
Wu Ling Wan (Five [Ingredients] Poria Pills): Water dampness
Xiao Chai Hu Wan (Minor Bupleurum Pills): Liver-spleen vacuity w/ lung and/or stomach depressive heat
Xiao Yao Wan (Rambling Pills): Liver-spleen disharmony w/ blood vacuity
Xue Fu Zhu Yu Wan (Blood Mansion Dispel Stasis Pills): Blood stasis in the chest
Yin Qiao Jie Du Wan (Lonicera & Forsythia Resolve Toxins Pills): Wind heat external contraction
Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan (Anemarrhena & Phellodendron Rehmannia Pills): Yin vacuity w/ vacuity heat
You can treat many, many patients with combinations of these basic formulas. When you need something for a patient that you don't currently have on your shelf, order it. However, we don't recommend that you order every ready-made medicine in the book just to have on hand. This ties up too much working capital and with FedEx or UPS, you usually can order things as you actually need them. You should probably be able to store these ready-made medicines without any problem in your current space with your current front desk set-up and clinic storage cabinets.
As your practice gets larger and you understand more about Chinese herbal medicine, you can add more ready-made medicines to your inventory as seems prudent. You may also find that you need higher potency, more complicated ready-made medicines for your patients, such as the ones described in this newsletter.
For more details on how to set up a singles pharmacy with bulk medicinals or granule singles, a list of what 50-60 specific herbs to start with, and how to set prices for all your herbal products, see The SuccessfulChinese Herbalist: How to Prescribe Correctly, Gain Patient Compliance, andOperate a Profitable Pharmacy by Bob Flaws and Honora Lee Wolfe sold at Bluepoppy.com or Amazon.com.