Drug Topics' 2011 business outlook survey: Steady sailing for now

December 15, 2010

Drug Topics' annual business outlook survey, conducted online in October, drew more than 400 responses from community, hospital, and long-term-care pharmacists. Their conclusions about the coming year may surprise you.

Key Points

While the economy in many industries has yet to rebound, the pharmacy industry has remained strong and most pharmacists are hopeful about 2011. However, optimism isn't running as high as it was last year, and the pharmacy community is concerned about how competition, reimbursement, and healthcare reform will affect the industry.

These are just a few of the conclusions drawn from Drug Topics' annual business outlook survey, an online survey conducted in October that received more than 400 responses from community, hospital, and long-term-care (LTC) pharmacists.

"I think there are a lot of very positive things going on in pharmacy, and so I think [pharmacists'] optimism is warranted, but it isn't going to get any easier," said Thomas Menighan, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA). "Margins are not going to get larger. People are going to have to be more efficient. They are going to have to find ways to make the services that pharmacists can provide pay off rather than relying on buy low, sell high."

Community pharmacists' financial outlook

Pharmacists' financial expectations for 2011 are generally positive, but they aren't without their concerns.

Nearly half (45%) of community pharmacists surveyed believe that sales will increase in 2011. For those who anticipate rising sales figures, the average increase expected is 4.5%.

In addition, 56% anticipate an increase to operating expenses, while 6% expect a decrease. For those who believe there will be an increase, the average expected increase is 4.1%. For those who anticipate a decrease, the average expected decrease is 1.2%.

About a third, or 35%, expect net profits to increase in 2011 by an average of 2.6%.

Half of community pharmacists believe that in their pharmacies, pharmacist salaries will increase in 2011, while 40% do not expect an increase. For the 50% who expect an increase, the average expected increase is 3.6%.