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NCPA Digest: Fewer independents but majority operating in underserved communities

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The number of new independent pharmacies and new prescriptions filled with independents were down in 2010, though the number of refilled prescriptions continued to grow slightly, according to the latest 2011 NCPA Digest, sponsored by Cardinal Health, released Monday by the National Community Pharmacists Association.

Now in its 79th year of publication, the NCPA Digest reports these 2010 findings:

  • Fueled by declining reimbursement rates and rising business costs, the number of total independent community pharmacies decreased slightly from 23,117 to 23,064;
  • The average independent community pharmacy's pretax net profit margin fell from 3.2% to 3%;
  • Approximately 92% of revenue is derived from the sale of prescription drugs;
  • Continuing to fill the void in underserved areas, the number of independent community pharmacies in areas of 20,000 people or less remained constant at 52%;
  • There was a small decline in the average amount of prescription drugs dispensed from 64,635 to 64,169, although the number of refills increased slightly;
  • Independent community pharmacies set a new high in generic drug utilization, increasing their generic dispensing rate from 69% to 72%;
  • The number of prescription drugs dispensed under the Medicare Part D program remained at 30%. In a sign of the tough economy, the number of Medicaid prescription drugs dispensed rose from 14% to 16%;
  • Disease state management services (immunization, blood pressure monitoring, diabetes training, etc.) or medication therapy management services were offered by 78% of pharmacies; and
  • 90% of independents are connected for e-prescribing.

"The 2011 NCPA Digest, sponsored by Cardinal Health, offers further proof of the adaptability and innovation of independent community pharmacists as they try to overcome significant challenges to keep serving patients," stated Douglas Hoey, NCPA EVP and CEO. "By offering a variety of patient-friendly niches to complement the prescription drugs they dispense, independent community pharmacies continue to distinguish themselves from their competitors and win kudos from patients."

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