NCPA survey: Closed-door LTC pharmacies dispense meds at 25% higher cost vs. retail

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Long-term care pharmacies incur dispensing costs that are 25% higher than those of traditional retail pharmacies and provide additional services to meet the unique health needs of LTC residents, according to the findings of a new survey released Friday by the National Community Pharmacists Association Long-Term Care Division.

"As payers consider new payment models — such as average acquisition cost, or AAC — it becomes even more vital that they account for the escalated costs of serving LTC patients," noted Douglas Hoey, NCPA CEO. "In addition, while short-cycle dispensing is considered as a means to reduce wastage of expensive medications, this survey is a reminder that consecutive 14-day prescriptions may result in higher dispensing costs that must be factored into pharmacy reimbursement models."

A typical independently owned, closed-door LTC pharmacy incurs dispensing costs of $13.54 per prescription for a 30-day supply, according to the survey. For retail pharmacies, the dispensing costs are estimated at $10.64 by the State of Alabama and $10.72 by Oregon in their respective analyses. 

Compared to their retail counterparts, closed-door LTC pharmacies incur additional dispensing-related costs to serve residents' needs, including such services as specialized packaging, 24-hour on-call pharmacy services and providing deliveries to LTC facilities several times a day on most days of the week.

Shorter-cycle medication supplies result in LTC dispensing costs that may be lower per prescription but higher overall for a 30-day supply. A 14-day supply of medication resulted in an average dispensing cost of $11.63 per prescription. However, dispensing two 14-day cycles incurs nearly twice the costs of dispensing a one-month supply causing costs rise to $23.26, NCPA noted. 

The results are available in a new report titled "Analysis of Costs to Dispense Prescriptions in Independently Owned Long-Term Care Pharmacies" that is available free-of-charge to NCPA LTC Division members, NCPA noted.

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