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Positive Picture of Independent Community Pharmacies Emerges With Release of 2008 NCPA Digest, Sponsored by Cardinal Health
Date:10/13/2008

TAMPA, Fla., Oct. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The 2008 NCPA Digest, sponsored by Cardinal Health, was released today at the NCPA 110th Annual Convention. The Digest has been published annually for over 75 years and provides the most comprehensive portrait of the financial state of independent community pharmacy from the previous calendar year. Last year's Digest provided an inside look into how the Medicare Part D prescription drug program had played a leading role in reducing the number of independent community pharmacies by five percent; but this year's Digest shows how independent community pharmacies are adjusting to new market conditions and are being successful in sustaining their viability.

"Independent community pharmacies are not only valued health care providers, but are remarkably resilient in adjusting to the constantly changing marketplace," said Bruce T. Roberts, RPh, NCPA executive vice president and CEO. "The Digest's numbers demonstrate the business acumen of our more than 23,000 members, as the number of stores stabilized, profit margins improved, and other measurement either showed stability or actual improvement. As a result our patients are better served, which means America is healthier."

In 2007, independent community pharmacies represented an $84 billion share of the marketplace, with $78 billion derived from prescription sales alone. These pharmacies dispensed over 1.4 billion prescription drugs, with an average generic utilization rate of 61 percent, helping to reduce the price of the average prescription drug dispensed at independent community pharmacies by almost $4 from last year. This is an important trend in a health care system that struggles mightily to contain exploding overall costs.

"Significantly reducing health care costs is a goal independent community pharmacies strive to achieve on a daily basis," said Stephen L. Giroux, RPh, NCPA President and an upstate New York pharmacy owner. "This objective is achieved by driving generic utilization and ensuring patients are taking their medication as prescribed."

The number of independent community pharmacies in operation has held steady since last year at 23,318, which comprise 39.4% of the nation's retail pharmacies. These pharmacies provide a wide array of high-quality services to their patients, such as compounding, medication therapy management, pain management, and blood pressure management. Despite the enormous challenges imposed by Medicare Part D, Medicaid and other third party reimbursements, independent community pharmacists continue to embrace and excel in areas of patient care services, technology adoption and customer satisfaction.

"Diversification is a key component to avoiding the fickle nature of the marketplace, and clearly independent community pharmacies understand that principle," said Roberts. "Not only does it facilitate the ability of these pharmacies to grow and compete in markets that are underserved by other competitors, but the true beneficiaries are the patients who get more of their health care needs met when they enter the doors of an independent community pharmacy."

The Digest further demonstrates that independent community pharmacies continue to provide many quality jobs with benefits; with data indicating an increase in wages for staff pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, reflecting the growing demand for qualified pharmacy staff. For patients, independent community pharmacies continue to be highly accessible no matter where they reside. In fact, over 50 percent of independent community pharmacies are located in rural areas, which traditionally are the most underserved regions for pharmacy services.

"Independent community pharmacies are vital cogs in our health care system and the communities they serve," said Giroux. "The Digest numbers demonstrate how community pharmacies remain vibrant contributors to their local economies, especially in underserved rural locations."

In order to remain competitive in today's marketplace, the use of technology in independent community pharmacy practice continues to increase. More and more, independents are taking advantage of new and emerging technology to enhance pharmacy efficiency, reduce costs, improve patient care and boost profits. The Digest found that over half of independent pharmacies have a Web site, offering the option of ordering prescription refills or over-the-counter products on-line. In addition, close to 70% of independent community pharmacies are connected to receive electronic prescriptions from providers or e-prescribing.

The Digest is offered in print and NCPA members can obtain full financial information as well as order a consulting report through http://www.ncpanet.org.

The Digest is a summary of selected financial and demographic information for independent community pharmacies throughout the United States. The Digest was first compiled more than 75 years ago. It is the most comprehensive report of independent pharmacy available and is supported through an unrestricted educational grant from Cardinal Health.

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) represents the nation's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 23,000 pharmacies. The nation's independent pharmacies, independent pharmacy franchises, and independent chains represent an $84 billion marketplace, employ over 300,000 employees and dispense nearly half of the nation's retail prescription medicines. To learn more go to http://www.ncpanet.org.


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SOURCE National Community Pharmacists Association
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