In 2015, the number of independent pharmacies declined along with prescription volume. But results from the NCPA 2016 Digest unveiled at the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) Annual Convention in New Orleans last month also showed that independent community pharmacies continue to be a vital source for patients in underserved areas.
The Digest, sponsored by Cardinal Health, provides an in-depth look at the $81.5 billion independent community pharmacy marketplace.
In addition to filling prescriptions, 81% of independent pharmacists offer medication therapy management (MTM), 67% provide immunizations, while 57% perform blood pressure monitoring, according to study data.
Net margins on Rx drugs continued to be slim due to third-party payer and government contracts that in some instances, according to the study, reimburse below acquisition cost.
The number of independent pharmacies declined from 22,478 to 22, 160 that employ more than 220,000 full-time equivalent workers.
The average independent community pharmacy location dispensed 60,943 Rxs (194 per day) in 2015. This figure represents a slight decrease from 61,568 prescriptions in 2014.
Contributing factors to the decline in prescription volume include: mandatory mail order, including steering those patients taking specialty medications; and preferred networks in Medicare Part D, according to the Digest results.