Generic Drugs Cut Costs for Independent Pharmacies

Published Online: Tuesday, November 13, 2012
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Dispensing lower-cost generic drugs helped independent pharmacists reduce health care costs in 2011, and also increased interaction with physicians, according to the 2012 NCPA [National Community Pharmacists Association] Digest, sponsored by Cardinal Health.

The annual survey of independent community pharmacies determined a generic dispensing rate of 76%, an increase of 4 percentage points over the 2010 rate. Independent community pharmacists consulted with physicians an average of 7.9 times per day.

The report noted that recent Gallup polls recognized pharmacists as one of the most trusted health care professionals, and that their recommendations to physicians are accepted 83% of the time. The recommendations often include generic substitution.

“The 2012 NCPA Digest, sponsored by Cardinal Health, provides fresh evidence of how trusted community pharmacists are working with patients and their physicians to improve health outcomes while reducing costs,” NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA, said in a press release. “Independent community pharmacists shattered their previous record in frequency of dispensing lower-cost generic drugs by raising the bar even higher in 2011. In addition, these small business health care providers are counseling patients face-to-face on the proper use of and adherence to their prescription drug regimen —making a dent in the estimated $290 billion in health care costs attributed to nonadherence.”

With 92% of revenue derived from prescription drug sales, the efficiencies from dispensing generic drugs can help independent pharmacies remain competitive. In particular, pharmacies reduced dispensing costs from $12.44 to $12.19 per prescription in 2011.

“Community pharmacists are working more frequently with physicians and continue to play a vital role in improving health outcomes while reducing costs,” Hoey said. “First, the Digest indicated that community pharmacists reached new highs in promoting the appropriate use of lower-cost generic drugs. Second, community pharmacists are increasingly offering physicians more recommendations for prescription drug therapy, including generic substitutes, and these suggestions continue to be accepted by doctors at a very high rate.”


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Generics saved $239 billion in 2013 (a 14% increase in savings from 2012) and more than $1.46 trillion over the recent decade. Further, the Express Scripts 2013 Drug Trend Report issued in 2014 shows that since 2008, the price of brand drugs has almost doubled, but the price of generic drugs has been cut roughly in half.
B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), discusses increasing generic drug prices and the problems they create for independent community pharmacists.
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