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Indie community pharmacies do more, make less 

Indie community pharmacies do more, make less 

ORLANDO, Fla. – Independent community pharmacies represented a $94 billion marketplace in 2022, but their gross margin fell to 21%, the lowest point in the 10-year lookback window of the National Community Pharmacists Association’s annual digest

This reflects factors like low or below-cost third-party reimbursements, inflation (which showed up in drug prices) and a higher cost of dispensing, according to the 2023 NCPA Digest, sponsored by Cardinal Health. 

“Patients across the country look to their local independent pharmacy for critical health care services, but crippling economic pressures from pharmacy benefit managers and the broader marketplace can make it difficult to keep the doors open,” said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, pharmacist, MBA. “The NCPA Digest report helps us demonstrate the array of patient services these pharmacies offer and what they need to survive. Like those they serve, independent pharmacies are resilient, but they aren’t invincible. Reforms to the broken payment model are needed if we are to ensure successful pharmacies and healthier, happier patients.” 

Other data from the digest include:  

  • The estimated number of independent community pharmacies declined, falling to 19,432 locations in 2023 from 19,479 the year prior. 

  • In 2022, the average prescription volume was 66,218 per store, an increase from the 63,228 prescriptions dispensed in 2021.  

  • Ninety-two percent of independent community pharmacy respondents identified their primary pharmacy operation as retail pharmacy. 


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