When Jerry Hodge purchased Maxor National Pharmacy Services Corp. in 1966, he said if he could fill 50 prescriptions a day he could make a living.
With the opening of the company's new mail-order pharmacy in downtown Amarillo, he could reach that long-ago goal in four minutes.
"This one can do 20,000 (prescriptions) a day if we do three shifts," said Hodge during the center's ribbon-cutting gala Thursday evening at 406 S. Tyler St.
The new one-story, 28,800-square foot facility is located across the street from the current Maxor Building. The $15 million pharmacy is divided into an area where employees take the orders and one where the orders are filled.
MaxorPlus Executive Vice President Steve Smith explained how it all works. A doctor can send in a prescription or customers can order their medicine through the internet, an interactive voice refill system or even mail prescriptions to Maxor. Then a pharmacist will review the prescription; ask the physician if there’s any questions or clarifications; check for drug allergies or drug interactions; and counsel a patient on the drugs' effects.
Then it goes to the other major area of the facility, the floor, where the prescription is filled and shipped to the customer's home or office, Smith said. One of the unique features in this area are the robotic prescription dispensing devices. There are three of them, and they look like the robotic arms seen on assembly lines at automobile plants.
In addition to more jobs, the real winners with the opening will be the business and public entities across the country that receive service through Maxor Plus, the company’s pharmacy benefit management wing.
"We built this building over the last year," Smith said. "It’s a single-purpose facility, and it will be our mail-order provider nationwide.
"We were able to build it from the ground up, so it’s got the latest technology and the latest tools to help our employees to do their job more efficiently and better."
About 100 employees will work in the new facility; about 80 worked in the old mail-order center that was located at 216 S. Polk St. That facility will be redesigned for specialty pharmacy and infusion use.
"We’ve had mail operations downtown for the last 15 years," said Smith, who has worked at Maxor for 27 years.
Maxor has had a mail-order pharmacy for 25 years, he added.
"We will take advantage of all the new software, new databases, new automation tools, both software and hardware," Smith said. "So our filling system is highly automated."
Hodge, who is retired but still serves on the board at Maxor, said, "Everything is bar-code scanned. It’s virtually fool proof. There will be a lot less errors than you can have when it’s done manually.
"One of the areas that you can have errors in a mail-order facility is to get the wrong bottle in the wrong bag. This system, it bar scans the prescription, it bar scans the mailing label. It’s absolutely fool proof that the right drugs get in the right bag."
Hodge said he owns the building and is leasing it to Maxor. He said 97 percent of the company's business is from outside the city of Amarillo.
He said there's $5 million worth of technology in the new facility. In addition to needing to hire more pharmacists, "we're having to add a bunch of IT to keep it all running."
After more than 90 years in business, that's a good problem for Maxor to have.