NCPA Survey: Independent Pharmacies Report Financial Strain from COVID-19 Pandemic

April 20, 2020

Eighty-eight percent of community pharmacy owners reported intentions to apply for COVID-19 federal aid, such as provisions from the CARES Act, according to the survey

Independent pharmacies are being overwhelmingly impacted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, according to results from a survey conducted by NCPA.

Eighty-eight percent of community pharmacy owners reported intentions to apply for COVID-19 federal aid, such as provisions from the CARES Act, that has been made available for small businesses, according to the survey.

The survey, which gauged pharmacy economic health during the COVID-19 pandemic, received a total of 511 responses from independent pharmacy owners and managers across the country from April 9 through April 14, 2020.

Overall, 35% of community pharmacy owners rated the current overall financial health of their business as “somewhat poor,” and 13% as “very poor,” whereas only 6% rated their current financial health as “very good.” Twenty-nine percent of respondents indicated that their financial health was “average.”

Of the biggest current business challenges that owners reported facing, pharmacy direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees came out on top (52%). Other challenges reported were decreasing reimbursement not related to DIR fees (26%), cashflow due to coronavirus (9%), and pharmacy benefit manager consolidation and vertical integration (7%).

Additionally, more than half (66%) of independent pharmacy owners said that their pharmacy is currently experiencing negative cash flow issues. Eight-five percent of independent pharmacies reported seeing an increase in the number of products reimbursed below acquisition cost since March 1, forcing them to dispense more prescriptions at a loss.

“Pharmacies are ‘essential businesses’ staying open during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep serving their communities, but many are on the brink at the very time they are needed the most,” NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey said in a press release.

Hoey called on the Trump administration and Congress to authorize additional funds for the Paycheck Protection Program, support American’s small business economy, and help the pharmacy safety net serve communities.

Survey results released last week by NCPA also showed that most neighborhood pharmacies reported experiencing drug shortages during this time. Read more about the survey results here.

 

References:

1. Report for Pharmacy Economic Health: Coronavirus Pandemic Survey. NCPA; April 20, 2020. Accessed April 20, 2020.

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2. Local pharmacies overwhelmingly need coronavirus small business aid as reimbursements and cash flow decline. News Release. NCPA; April 20, 2020. Accessed April 20, 2020. https://ncpa.org/newsroom/news-releases/2020/04/20/local-pharmacies-overwhelmingly-need-coronavirus-small-business.