Independent Pharmacies Say They Can Help Patients Impacted by Chain Store Closures, NCPA Survey Finds


A new poll from the organization surveyed 10000 independent community pharmacy owners on current worries in the industry and how they are being impacted by the ongoing national drug shortage.

A majority of independent community pharmacies located near chain pharmacies said they would be able to care for any patients who are being affected by closed stores or reduced hours, according to a new poll conducted by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).1

The new survey of 10000 independent pharmacy owners comes after some of the leading national pharmacy chains said they are shuttering hundreds of stores across the country. CVS announced earlier this year that it plans to close 900 stores by 2024, Forbes reported. In July, Walgreens said that it plans to close 150 locations and also reduce operating hours at 1100 stores.2

Rite Aid, the third largest pharmacy chain in the United States, is preparing for bankruptcy and has said it will close 400 to 500 stores as part of ongoing negotiations with bondholders. The company has over $3 billion of debt and is facing lawsuit settlements related to the opioid epidemic.2

“Chain pharmacies in the United States are closing left and right, leaving Americans on both sides of the aisle looking for new pharmacies and independent pharmacies often scrambling to rescue them,” B. Douglas Hoey, CEO at NCPA, said in a release.1 “It’s unclear if this is an opportunity or threat for independent pharmacies. But one thing is certain: patient access to community pharmacies is in peril without reforms to PBMs and the pharmacy payment model.”

In the survey, 43% of respondents said they are located near a major pharmacy chain store that is being affected. Nearly 90% of those respondents said they are able to absorb patients and over 60% said they are actively working to attract those patients by increasing their advertising budget and rolling out targeted marketing campaigns.

The NCPA survey also asked pharmacies about current worries and how they are being affected by the ongoing drug shortage. A top concern among the respondents was low reimbursement from pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). They said this issue could make it harder to compete for more staff and resources.

Filling open staff positions was an issue for 58% of survey respondents. Pharmacy technicians were in demand for 87% of respondents, followed by front-end staff at 41%, pharmacists at 32%, and delivery drivers at 17%. A shortage of GLP-1 agonists was impacting 85% of survey respondents and 94% said they are experiencing a shortage of Adderall or generics.

In regard to inventory, 83% said they plan to carry the updated COVID-19 vaccines and 85% said they will begin carrying naloxone nasal spray. Additionally, 73% reported a recent increase in sales of COVID-19 tests.

"Changes to the health care system are essential before it’s too late—not just for the pharmacies struggling to stay afloat, but for the patients who are caught in the crossfire just trying to receive care,” said Hoey.

1. NCPA Survey: Chain Pharmacy Closures an Opportunity and a Threat for Independents. News Release. NCPA. September 28, 2023. Accessed September 29, 2023.
2. Danziger PN. Drugstore Downsizing: CVS, Walgreens And Rite Aid To Close Nearly 1,500 Stores. News Report. Forbes. September 27, 2023. Accessed September 29, 2023.
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