- The Washington Times - Friday, March 14, 2003

David M. Posner is tucked away in the back of Bradley Care Drugs with just his head visible above the high counter. The pharmacist peers out to greet one of his regulars by name.

"Are you going to wait for this," Mr. Posner asks, glancing at a doctor's prescription, which will take him about 10 minutes to fill.

Mr. Posner, 41, says the personal touch from knowing customers' names to reminding them to take their medication with food helps keep the Bethesda drugstore thriving in a world dominated by corporate chains like Rite-Aid, CVS and Safeway.

"People come here because they want to come here," says Mr. Posner. "It's much more personable and we'll go the extra step."

Mr. Posner doesn't plan to change that when he buys the business at the end of this month from Stanley Smith, who has owned the independent drugstore for 30 years.

"You get to know the people," Mr. Smith says. "They prefer to do business with a local business."

Mr. Posner, who was a pharmacist at Giant for 17 years, joined Bradley's 2½ years ago with the intention of buying the store when Mr. Smith retired.

"I enjoy being a pharmacist …," says Mr. Posner, who will continue to work behind the counter when he becomes the new owner. "You have to find a niche to compete with the chains."

On this day when the store located across the street from a CVS pharmacy opens at 9 a.m., the phone immediately begins ringing with customers and doctors calling in orders and refills. Within minutes Mr. Posner has a dozen prescriptions lined up on the counter to be filled. He won't disclose how many prescriptions the store fills each day but says, "This is a busy pharmacy."

Mr. Posner, who is also on the phone with a customer, darts behind shelving that holds more than 1,000 different types of medicine from tablets and tiny pills to liquids and creams. Without hesitation he pulls the right medication from the shelf. It is alphabetically sorted by brand name with its generic counterpart right next to it.

"The more experience you have the easier it gets," Mr. Posner says, reaching for another bottle of medication.

Within minutes, Mr. Posner has poured colorful tablets onto a counting tray to sort the pills. He separates the pills needed for the prescription and pours them into an amber-colored generic bottle.

Mr. Posner labels the medicine and puts the appropriate warnings on the bottle. He moves to one of several computers to double-check his work. Bar codes on the medication match up to the prescription and a picture of the correct medication pops up on the screen.

"There's always checks and balances," says Mr. Posner, who works with three other pharmacists and three technicians behind the counter.

Each filled prescription gets moved to a shelf marked "filled," where they are arranged for pickup or delivery. Bradley delivers to Montgomery County a useful amenity for a store which has a lot of elderly, hospice and assisted-living customers.

A shelf marked "pending" is filled with several incomplete orders waiting for verification or authorization from a physician. Mr. Posner says he rarely has trouble reading a doctor's scribble on a prescription.

"When you do it all the time, it's what you get accustomed to," he says. "There are some handwritings out there though that you have to verify with the doctor."

Mr. Posner says at least once a month the store is filling a prescription for a new drug.

"It's a learning experience," he says. "There's always new drugs coming out."

Mr. Posner, who lives in Owings Mills, Md., with his wife and two sons, says that when he takes over on April 1 he doesn't want anything at the store to change.

"Customers won't know the difference," he says.

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