Report: Community Pharmacy Has Broadened Scope of Services


A new NCPA report highlights the role of community pharmacies.

Results from a benchmarking survey found that independent community pharmacies continue to fortify and increase the scope of services they offer patients while absorbing lower reimbursements for dispensing prescription drugs.

The findings were reported in the 2017 NCPA Digest and were unveiled at the NCPA’s Annual Convention in Orlando, FL. The annual benchmarking survey is sponsored by Cardinal Health.

 “Independent community pharmacies remain indispensable for patients, especially in underserved communities,” NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey said in a statement. “This occurs because of the quality of services, which are growing as pharmacists find new ways to drive better health outcomes for their patients, and through civic engagement in their communities.” 

NCPA Digest also reported that independent community pharmacies offer a variety of services: 86% offer medication therapy management; 74% provide immunizations; 61% perform blood pressure monitoring; and 52% furnish durable medical goods.

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In addition, 69% of all independent community pharmacy owners donated to at least five local organizations in 2016.

Steve Lawrence, Senior Vice President of Retail Independent Sales at Cardinal Health, said that in the developing health-care landscape, pharmacists will continue to provide more clinical services to their patients. “We’ll see independent pharmacies leading the way in offering the services and care patients need to stay adherent to their medications and remain healthy.”

Highlights from the 2017 NCPA Digest:

  • The estimated number of independent community pharmacies is 22,041, down slightly from last year's total of 22,160.

  • Community pharmacies represent 36% of the retail pharmacy marketplace.

  • Eighty-one percent of community pharmacies serve population areas of 50,000 or less.

  • More than 200,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) individuals are employed by these pharmacies, bolstering state and local economies and tax revenue.

  • Prescription volume decreased from 60,493 prescriptions annually in 2016 to 59,746 in 2017, likely due in part to 90-day refill requirements, patients being steered to PBM-owned mail-order pharmacies, and exclusionary pharmacy network arrangements.

  • Generic drugs comprise 84% of all prescriptions dispensed.

  • Fifty-two percent of total prescriptions are covered by Medicare Part D and Medicaid programs.

  • Ninety percent of community pharmacies are offering some type of medication adherence program.

  • Below-cost reimbursements, exacerbated by DIR fees in Medicare Part D, contribute to gross margins falling by 5% over the past five years.
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