Survey studies rate of growth for pharmacy staff salaries across U.S.
NEW YORK A new survey by consulting firm Mercer indicates that pay for pharmacy professionals is still climbing, though at a slower pace for some positions.
A retail staff pharmacist, for example, receives median total cash compensation of $102,800, compared to $98,600 in 2006—an increase of 4.3 percent, according to the 2007 Pharmacy Compensation Survey. The increase for last year, however, was 5.3 percent. The positions of pharmacy team manager and pharmacy technician are also experiencing pay rising at a slower rate, though a regional pharmacy operations manager earns median total cash compensation of $130,400 compared to $122,100 in 2006, an increase of 6.8 percent. This is more than twice the pay increase of 3.1 percent in 2005. Similarly, clinical pharmacists saw pay raises increase from 3.9 percent in 2006 to 6.3 percent in 2007.
The overall increase in salaries, the survey said, can be attributed to the shortage of talent, growing number of prescriptions to fill due to an aging population and complications resulting from Medicare Part D. “In an effort to attract and retain good pharmacists and remain competitive, pharmacy operators are continuing to raise salaries,” said Eric Michael, principal with Mercer’s managed pharmacy benefit business. “Pharmacists today have many choices regarding where to work and the type of work they want to do. Not only have the number of outlets offering pharmacies increased, pharmacists have opportunities in wholesale businesses and with the government that may offer better hours and less or no prescriptions to fill.”
Pay levels do, however, vary considerably by geography. Compared to the national median for total cash compensation, pay for a retail staff pharmacist is lower in cities like Little Rock, Ark. ($82,100), Omaha, Neb. ($91,500) and Pittsburgh, Pa. ($93,600). However, pay for this position is much higher in many cities in California, including San Jose ($112,800) and San Francisco ($112,700).
The survey, conducted semi-annually, reflects data submitted by 172 organizations covering more than 210,690 pharmacy employees in 22 different jobs and 380 metropolitan areas across the U.S. Support for the survey comes from such pharmacy operators as CVS Caremark, Giant Food Stores, Kroger, Longs Drug Stores, Meijer, Rite Aid, Stop & Shop, Tops Markets and Walgreens.
New Jersey adds flu vaccine to list of childhood innoculations
PHILADELPHIA The state of New Jersey announced that, starting in September 2008, children entering day care or preschool will be required to have had flu vaccinations, despite some parents’ fears that the trace amounts of mercury in the vaccines could trigger autism.
The flu vaccine is an addition to the list of communicable diseases for which children in the state already are required to have before they can enter such social settings as day care or preschool, both situations in which contagious diseases are easily spread. “This is a public-health policy that is aimed at protecting children and the community at large,” Eddy Bresnitz, state epidemiologist and a deputy health commissioner, told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Some parents, however, have expressed concern and even written letters to the Public Health Council in opposition to the change, mainly over safety concerns. While no scientific studies have found a link between thimerosal—a mercury-containing preservative once used in vaccines—and the triggering of autism in young children, some vaccines still contain trace amounts of the chemical and it’s enough to alarm parents.
“It is our feeling that parents have the right to make medical decisions for their families,” Sue Collins, a parent and leader of the New Jersey Alliance for Informed Choice in Vaccination, told the paper. “I don’t want trace amounts of mercury in my body or my children’s bodies under any circumstances. We know it is a dangerous toxin and yet we keep injecting it into our kids.”
“Thimerosol-free preparations are available, and the trace amounts in some preparations are truly tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny amounts,” said Craig Newschaffer, chair of the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Drexel University School of Public Health.
The new rules follow recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
New Jersey does allow exemptions based on medical and religious grounds, but not for “philosophical” reasons. “Flu is turning out to be a stealth killer,” said Robert Field, chair of the department of health policy and public health at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. “Seasonal flu, which most people can shrug off as an inconvenience for a week or two, is truly a threat to people at high risk, particularly the very old, the very young, and those with compromised immune systems.”
Tibotec awards Medivir $24 million for drug development milestone
STOCKHOLM, Sweden Medivir has received $24.54 million from Tibotec related to the development of the drug candidate TMC435350, which recently advanced into Phase II clinical trials at the end of November, according to published reports.
The money has come in two different payments. The first payment was for a clinical milestone reached by Medivir under the terms of the research and license agreement between the two companies; that amounted in $7.21 million for Medivir. The second payment is due because Medivir opted not to obtain the marketing rights to an approved product in the Nordic countries, which resulted in $17.32 million.
“Our goal is to achieve revenues from sales of licensed pharmaceuticals in the Nordic market in the coming 12 months,” explains Medivir’s chief executive officer Lars Adlersson. “A robust financial position will facilitate the creation of a Nordic sales and marketing organization and strengthen us in coming partnership negotiations.”