Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

Medicaid andother governmenthealth care programsare grosslyunderpaying communitypharmacistsfor the costof dispensing prescriptionmedications,according tothe results of a new study by researchersat Grant Thornton.

Although Medicaid pays pharmacistsan average dispensing fee of about $4.50per prescription, the actual cost to USpharmacies of dispensing medication ismore than double that amount. The averageis $10.50 per Rx nationwide, accordingto the study findings issued by theCoalition for Community PharmacyAction (CCPA).

The Grant Thornton study, whichreflects data from >23,000 communitypharmacies nationwide, "is the first of itskind, encompassing all factors related tothe cost of dispensing medication, inmore than 14 years," said the CCPA. Theresearchers uncovered significant variationsfrom one state to another in theaverage cost of dispensing prescriptiondrugs.

Average pharmacy dispensing costsare now a whopping $13.08 per Rx inCalifornia, and the figures are even higherin some mountain states, the studyfound.

Even in Rhode Island—the state wheredispensing costs are the lowest in thenation at $8.50 per Rx—pharmacists arebeing underpaid by Medicaid and othergovernment drug programs by nearlyhalf.

"As a result of low reimbursementrates, many pharmacies will have troublekeeping their doors open or will beforced to reduce the number of pharmacistsor pharmacy hours," said CharlesSewell, copresident of the CCPA.