October 30, 2013
Changes in Services, Payments for Independent
Community Pharmacies

Orlando, FL—For the first time, most of the prescriptions filled by independent community pharmacies were from two government programs—Medicare, representing 33%, and Medicaid with 18%.

Those statistics come from the National Community Pharmacists Association’s (NCPA) 2013 Digest, sponsored by Cardinal Health. Details of this year’s findings were shared recently with attendees of the NCPA 115th Annual Convention and Trade Exposition in Orlando.

Not only are payment sources changing for independent community pharmacies; these pharmacists also are offering new services to help improve patient care and control costs.

According to the NCPA Digest, nearly half, 48%, of all independent community pharmacies offer patient-adherence counselling services, up 9% from the previous survey. Pharmacies providing adherence telephone calls or text reminders significantly increased, from 22% to 39%.

Generic drug utilization also surged, with community pharmacists dispensing them 77% of the time. In fact, community pharmacist recommendations for generic drug use are accepted by prescribers 83% of the time, according to the survey.

“Independent community pharmacists are playing a larger role than ever in improving health and cutting costs through the promotion of medication adherence and proper use of generic drugs,” said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA.

The number of independent community pharmacies fell slightly from the previous year, to 23,029 from 23,106, according to the NCPA Digest, with prescription sales volume also decreasing slightly. The organization suggested that mandatory mail-order pharmacy requirements or other limitations imposed on patient choice could have led to those declines.

Pretax net profits remained essentially flat, however, at 3%, according to the survey. At the same time, overall sales increased a bit with business model diversification, including same-day home delivery, durable medical equipment, compounding, and immunizations.

More than half of independent community pharmacies, 53%, are located in areas with less than 20,000 residents, the survey notes.

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