Independent pharmacies on rise

Friday, June 30, 2006

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The number of independent pharmacies increased in 2005, despite numerous challenges faced by pharmacist-owned, non-publicly traded pharmacies.
Independent pharmacies have seen an increases in the volume of prescriptions dispensed and in total prescription sales, according to data released April 28 by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) in the 2006 NCPA-Pfizer Digest.
Also, one trend that continues is the number of independent pharmacies increasingly expanding into complementary areas like durable medical equipment.
Of the 105,000 to 110,000 HME suppliers recognized by CMS, pharmacy comprises 49,728 or 46%, while traditional DMEs numbered 22,907 or 21%.
Independent pharmacies include single-store independent pharmacies, independent chains, independent franchises, independent long-term care and home IV pharmacies, and independent pharmacist-owned supermarket pharmacies.
Some preliminary figures:
- 4,500: total number of independent pharmacies in 2005; up from 24,345 in 2004.
- 63,500: average number of prescriptions dispensed annually per pharmacy (204 per day); up from 59,432 annually (190 per day) in 2004.
- $3.98 million: average annual independent pharmacy sales; up from $3.58 million in 2004.
- $3.67 million: average annual independent prescription sales; up from $3.28 million in 2004.
In a statement, NCPA President James Rankin warned that these figures do not reflect recent changes brought about by Medicare Part D but said the data will aid in addressing the challenges of the new plan.
Early reports from an NCPA survey done following the first quarter of 2006 on the impact of Part D on independent pharmacy indicate that gross margins may have shrunk since Jan. 1. More than 60% of pharmacies said they have been forced to obtain outside financing to address financial pressures.