Lester Burris ’12 said he received a great education from Butler’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences—especially the lessons in dealing with the ever-changing role of the pharmacist.
“I learned at Butler that a career spans several different jobs or even roles within those jobs,” he said. “Pharmacy is probably going to continue to change for as long as I’m working, so it’s important to be adaptable to that.”
That information proved to be important because since graduating, Burris has moved from CVS to Kmart to his own pharmacy. In May 2016, Burris, Josh Anderson ’07, and Josh’s uncle Steve Anderson ’91 founded Panacea Pharmacy inside the new Lucky’s Market store in Bloomington, Indiana. (They have since opened another pharmacy in Hope, Indiana.)
Suddenly, not only did Burris need to know all about medications, but he had to learn the business of pharmacy. The Panacea team had to contract with insurance companies, figure out their inventory, and develop their business model—which includes a more holistic approach to providing medication. Among their innovations: Packaging a patient’s medications together so they don’t have to open multiple pill bottles, and a smartphone app that makes it easier to fill prescriptions.
“We’re trying to change the way pharmacy’s done,” he said. “The main thing we’re trying to focus on improving is medication adherence. That’s a big focus of the Affordable Care Act—preventing readmission to the hospital. And one big cause of that is medication non-compliance.”
Burris grew up in Mitchell, Indiana, south of Bloomington, and knew he wanted to study pharmacy in college. He chose Butler because it’s closer to his home than Purdue is, and he was able to walk on and play football. After a year on the team as kicker—mostly place kicking, and a little punting—he figured he wasn’t going to see much playing time. He talked to the coaching staff and asked if he could help out.
“I was able to stay involved with the football team, which was one of my best experiences at Butler for sure,” Burris said.
Burris said by the time he graduated, he was well prepared for the state and national pharmacy licensing exams. As for running his own pharmacy, Burris said he’s enjoying the opportunity to improve patients’ health.