Magazine article Drug Topics

Recomm Flares Up Again as Leasing Firms Turn Up the Heat

Magazine article Drug Topics

Recomm Flares Up Again as Leasing Firms Turn Up the Heat

Article excerpt

Independent pharmacists stung by a bad business deal with Recomm International Display Corp. are feeling the heat again as determined leasing companies close in to collect money from them for display equipment that may be gathering dust. Some independents are also angry at Astra Merck for employing the bankrupt Recomm firm at this critical juncture.

The hard feelings stem from the bankruptcy last February of Recomm International, which had promised businesses leasing their travel/health-care kiosks and electronic message boards a share of advertising revenues. The checks dried up, and the R.Ph.s discovered they were on the hook with leasing companies that expected to be paid. Some leasing firms are under a temporary restraining order imposed by the bankruptcy court in Florida. Others are not included and are reportedly winning lawsuits against the leasees. An estimated 15,000 small business owners were sold by Recomm. They included optometrists, veterinarians, and as many as 8,000 independent R.Ph.s

Phone calls to Recomm were not returned. Now doing business as Recomm Operations Inc., the firm cut its staff from a high of 260 employees to 30 and vacated the Tampa quarters it reportedly rented for $60,000 a month. As the debtors-in-possession, the leasing companies put up money last spring to keep the firm afloat. Equity Partners Inc., a Baltimore broker, was also appointed by the court to find a buyer for Recomm.

Having Astra Merck hook up with Recomm was like putting salt in raw wounds for some independents. Some owners continue to use boards and kiosks or settled with the leasing companies. Others mothballed the equipment, stopped making payments, and ignore monthly information update discs sent by Recomm.

The dissidents learned of the Astra Merck connection in October, when Recomm sent them packets of Prilosec pamphlets. Some independents said they have contacted Astra Merck about their Recomm woes to no avail. Dexter Spaulding, owner of Swanton Rexall Drugs, Swanton, Vt., said his e-mail message protesting the Wayne, Pa., drug firm's Recomm connection was never answered. "I wanted to let Astra Merck know that this is terrible," he said.

Facing leases for more than $30,000, Jim Lambert, owner of Gibson Pharmacy, Picayune, Miss., figures Astra Merck was misinformed about how little of Recomm's equipment is actually being used. In an unanswered letter to Astra Merck, he wrote, "I don't think you would support this travesty against so many community pharmacies if you knew all the facts. …

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