Pharmacy Profits: Time to Level the Playing Field

AUGUST 20, 2015
Reading about lower profit margins in Walmart’s pharmacy business provided a few “ah ha” moments for me.
If a company as large as Walmart has no bargaining power with pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), as a Morningstar analyst suggests, then it’s no wonder why independent community pharmacists complain about PBMs.
If Walmart’s pharmacy profits have taken a hit, then the same must be true for most, if not all, pharmacies. When I heard community pharmacy owners complain about how much their profits have been slashed by reduced dispensing fees, I was inclined to think “Well, you are still in business, so it can’t be that bad.” But now I can see where they are coming from. 
I recently spoke with a third-generation community pharmacy owner about her daughter, a college freshman. She said, “I can’t in good conscience encourage her to go into pharmacy because it is really tough to run a business in today’s climate.”
This is a sad but true story, and I believe she is not alone in offering this advice to the next generation. As she told me, “I still love pharmacy and taking care of my patients, but I am getting tired of butting my head against a wall.”
There may be many options for fixing this problem, but from my perspective, an important one is to find a way to level the playing field. Helping to pass H.R. 793, the Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act of 2015, and H.R. 244, the MAC Transparency Act, is a good first step. 
A group of us recently met with a representative at her local office to make our case and ask for her support of these 2 pieces of legislation. We also thanked her again for her work on pharmacy provider status legislation. 
Together, we can make a difference.