The Value of Community Pharmacy
Mr. Eckel is professor and director of the Office of Practice Development and Education at the School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Who cares if your communitypharmacy closes? Sure,your employees will careif they lose their jobs. A few patientswho are inconvenienced may care, butwould there be a community outcry?As more and more patients and otherhealth providers see drug products asjust another commodity, most at firstblush probably would not. The newNational Association of Chain DrugStores (NACDS) tag line, "pharmacies—the face of neighborhood healthcare," perhaps says it best, however.The loss of your community pharmacywill impact the entire community, evenif at first few realize it. Let's hopewe can get out the message, so thatpeople will realize your value beforeyou are gone. The 2008-2009 ChainPharmacy Industry Profile (Alexandria,VA: National Association of Chain DrugStores; 2008) helps make the case ofthe many contributions made by communitypharmacy.
First, "Pharmacies contribute tooverall community health, whichincludes the well-being of patients,economic vitality, and good jobs."Traditional drugstores, supermarkets,and mass merchants, as well as suppliersof products sold in the pharmacyand front-end departments, contributevaluably to each of these attributes.
Second, NACDS reports that "thetotal economic impact of retail storeswith pharmacies reaches well beyondtheir $827 billion in annual sales. Infact, retail stores with pharmacies havea total annual economic impact of $2.42trillion, based on 2007 data. That is theequivalent of approximately 17% of thegross domestic product. Every $1 spentin these stores creates a ripple effect of$2.93 throughout other segments ofthe economy?public policy—such asreimbursement models for governmentprograms that reimburse pharmaciesat less than their cost for some drugs—can jeopardize the ability of pharmaciesto perform their vital role in healthcare delivery as well as their ability tohelp drive the economy."
We can certainly expect nationalorganizations to advocate for us, buteach of us needs to convey the valuethat our community pharmacy contributesto our local area. Patients have toknow you to understand your value.You put the face on pharmacy.