Close up image of a caretaker helping older woman walk

Executives tied to one of the nation’s largest nursing home chains say a new institutional pharmacy model they unveiled this week could soon become the market’s No. 3 player. The parent group of Golden Living officially launched AlixaRx this week with predictions it could become a $250 million per year business within 18 months.

Ultimately capturing one-fifth or more of the 16,000-nursing home market is a distinct possibility, said AlixaRx President Larry Deans: “If we had 20% of market share [within five years], right now that would be a good goal to shoot for. We believe providers have a need for this service.”

AlixaRx’s unveiling comes at the detriment of PharMerica, which is losing the Golden Living contracts, company officials said. PharMerica has about 20% of the long-term care institutional pharmacy market, which has put it second behind leader Omnicare, which commands approximately 60% of the market, Deans said.

Four years in the making, the AlixaRx model centers on an automated dispensing unit. Partially refrigerated, it makes 95% of the most common medications typically needed in nursing homes immediately available, around the clock. The unit is complemented by ongoing consultations from board-certified consultant pharmacists.

Twenty-five facilities currently use the system, with 72 expected to be fully online by the end of the year, Deans said. All of Golden Living’s 302 facilities are expected to be online by the end of 2013, a spokeswoman added. Fillmore Capital partners, a private investment company that owns Golden Living, formally announced the launch of Alixa on Monday at the American Health Care Association’s annual meeting in Tampa.

Company officials said they expect many non-Golden Living operators to adopt AlixaRx services, much as hundreds do with the parent company’s Aegis Therapies division.

The initial marketing campaign is pushing three key concepts: Pharmacy service that is more efficient and more effective, and produces less waste. “Post-consumption billing” will be a key practice, Deans said, because the dispensing units will negate the need to purchase larger quantities that might not later be consumed. This will take costs out of the care process and lessen the volume of unused pharmaceuticals that could ultimately be dumped into the environment, he added.