Discover Lafayette welcomes Joel Fruge, owner of Acadiana Prescription Shop and expert in everything related to independent pharmacies.
Acadiana Prescription Shop has been in continuous operation since 1969 and under the wing of Fruge since 2002, where they have five pharmacists on staff. “I feel privileged to be able to work at the Petroleum Center, we have an excellent clientele,” said Fruge.
Fruge grew up with her five siblings in Eunice, three of whom now also live in Lafayette. While Fruge attended college at LSU-Eunice, his first job was a delivery job for a pharmaceutical company, which immediately sparked his interest in the profession. He then went to the University of Northeastern Louisiana’s Pharmaceutical School, and then made several important connections during his first job at the University Medical Center (now the Ochsner University Hospitals and Clinics).
Fruge then went to work for K&B Drug Stores in Lake Charles, which was later acquired by Rite Aid. After moving to a small town in Texas to work for a management company, Fruge knew he wanted to come back to southern Louisiana.
The first independent pharmacy he worked for was Carmichael’s in Crowley. “Ted Carmichael was very successful, he taught me so much,” Fruge said. He quickly learned the value of client relationships through Ted and witnessing his work ethic.
After his stint at Carmichael, Fruge was called upon to work for Acadiana Prescription Shop by its late owner, Philip Comeaux. Sadly, Comeaux passed away shortly after Fruge joined the store in 2002. “We had so much in common that it really gave me the opportunity to be here at the Oil Center as an independent pharmacist. We’re not planning to go anywhere, ”Fruge said. He took over Acadiana Prescription Shop and kept many of its classic details, such as the “Toot & Scoot” training service, while updating operations by replacing DOS software and purchasing a fax machine. Over the years, he has upgraded the software and hardware to be able to offer his customers the ability to check in two to three minutes, even when they have up to ten prescriptions filled.
Acadiana Prescription Shop is a stand-alone, independent pharmacy, which means it is not connected to any chain of prescription stores. “It took me five years to become an owner, but it went quickly. I was so happy that the clients gave me a chance and stayed. Fruge mentioned how neat and well-stocked his store is, which will always be of the utmost importance to him as he follows in the revered footsteps of Philip Comeaux.
Discussing the impact of external factors on its pharmacy business, Fruge said: “One of the biggest challenges is being able to afford what insurance companies decide to reimburse us.” Fruge mentioned the impact in 2006 of the implementation of Medicare Part D (which covers the cost of drugs for the elderly) on the pharmacy industry: “It made people buy their drugs at the drugstore but at a reduced price ”. Party D also ushered in the era of Pharmacy Benefit Managers who reduced the payment of drug manufacturing rebates to customers and the government, and were blamed for the shocking rise in drug prices over the past 15 years.
Discussing drug benefit managers, Fruge said their original goal was to save government and insurance companies money. After many laws, their practices are still not extremely transparent. “Last summer many of us independent pharmacists went to the capital in white coats to hear the lobby of pharmacy benefit managers,” said Fruge. He also mentioned that big pharmacies like CVS are trying to crush small independent pharmacies to regain their business volume.
Fruge told us about GoodRx, a card that tracks drug prices to help people find discounts. “While we don’t mind doing it, the problem with the card is that GoodRx charges the pharmacy $ 8.00 per use,” Fruge said.
Regarding Covid, Fruge mentioned that the mask’s tenure could have been beneficial in his shop even before the pandemic, “We should have thought about it a long time ago because people came in with the flu and they were coughing on my cashiers. who were then ill the following week. Although Acadiana Prescription Shop does not administer the COVID vaccine, Fruge is a big supporter of its benefits, especially because he has lost someone to illness. “The vaccine is there for a reason, even though it has side effects… the numbers are proven to work.”
With its well stocked shelves and convenient location in the Oil Center, Acadiana Prescription Shop always has a crowd of people coming in and out. “My staff love what they do, they love the people coming in,” Fruge said. In addition to its “Toot and Scoot” service, where customers can honk their horns and be served, the store also delivers to customers who live within five miles of its location.
“Pharmacists are the only health professionals you can consult. No need for an appointment to seek advice. We do a lot for the public. I like this side of what we do.
Acadiana Prescription Shop offers a wide range of over-the-counter medications and remedies. They make compound medicines for women with hormonal issues, medical pacifiers for children with pain caused by tonsillectomies, and they offer Boudreaux’s Butt Paste for a variety of needs faced by babies with diaper rash, runners and others with minor skin irritations (which was marketed and patented by pharmacist George Boudreaux based on the “Talbot Method” formula that all pharmacy students learn in school).
Fruge loves its Oil Center location and its clientele. “You have people coming in and they say ‘thank you’, and I just like being up front and being with people,” Fruge said. You cannot walk around Acadiana Prescription Shop without having a pleasant meeting with the staff and other customers.
For more information on the Acadiana prescription store located at 454, boul. Heymann. at the Lafayette Petroleum Center, please visit https://www.acadianarx.com/ or call (337) 233-4017.