NCPA: Independents Offering More Services than Ever Before

November 8, 2019

Medication management and vaccination services among top services.

Results of NCPA’s 2019 Digest suggest independent pharmacies are offering more services than ever before despite their continued decline.

Independent pharmacy represented 35% of all retail pharmacies in the US and a $75.8 billion marketplace, according to NCPA’s "2019 NCPA Digest", sponsored by Cardinal Health. The Digest was released at NCPA’s Annual Convention in San Diego in late October.

The estimated number of independent community pharmacies dropped from 21,909 in 2017 to 21,767 in 2018. The report also says that independent pharmacies are providing a variety of extra services, including: medication synchronization (79%), medication therapy management (77%), flu immunizations (76%), non-flu immunizations (69%); blood pressure monitoring (57%), and durable medical goods (53%).

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Around 91% of community pharmacies are offering some type of medication adherence program, “aligning the interest of patients, payers, pharmacists, and plans,” says NCPA in a statement.

"Independent community pharmacists have long been lauded for the services patients can access and the quality care they can receive at these locally-owned pharmacies," said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh. "As economic pressures on pharmacies continue-and as more medical-side payers find value in community-based pharmacies-it's increasingly important to change the pharmacy payment model to compensate for value and recognize pharmacists for the services they do and can provide.”

Other primary findings from the 2019 NCPA Digest include:

  • Prescription volume is 58,823 (189 per day) in 2018.

  • Seventy-four percent of community pharmacies serve population areas of 50,000 or fewer.

  • Thirty-nine percent of independents dispense specialty medications. The top disease state specialty medications dispensed include: rheumatoid arthritis (83%), HIV (54%), and multiple sclerosis (40%).

  • 2,351 pharmacies are participating in the CPESN USA national network of clinically integrated pharmacies, with networks launched and expanding in 44 of the 50 states.

  • Thirty-nine percent of independent pharmacies have collaborative drug therapy agreements with physicians, and 24% have access to electronic medical records.

  •  Fifty-four percent of total prescriptions are covered by the Medicare Part D and Medicaid programs, comparable to previous years.

  • Sixty-five percent of all independent community pharmacy owners donated to at least five local organizations in 2018.

The top four point-of-care services provided are: influenza (13%), rapid strep (12%), cholesterol screening (10%), and hemoglobin A1C (6%).