Pharmacy Times
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Despite the economicpressures facing communitypharmacy, the nation's independentpharmacists entered2006 in a strong competitive position, according tothe latest NCPA-Pfizer Digest.

The total number of US independent pharmaciesrose to 24,500 at the end of 2005, up from 24,345 theyear before, the new research shows. Prescriptionvolume at independent pharmacies also experiencedgains, climbing to an average of 204 per day, up from190 in 2004.

Total sales per store rose from $3.58 million to$3.98 million last year, and staffing levels at independentpharmacies also are on the rise, accordingto the report. Nearly one third of all the communitypharmacists surveyed in 2005 expressed plans tohire at least one full-or part-time pharmacist duringthe coming year.

In contrast with their robust performance last year,however, the nation's independent pharmacies may beheading for a downturn in 2006, officials at the NationalCommunity Pharmacists Association (NCPA) warned.

"It's important to keep in mind that these figuresare from 2005 and do not reflect any of the enormouschanges that we are seeing as a result of MedicarePart D," said NCPA President James Rankin, PD.

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