NCPA Digest: Community Pharmacists Promoting Medication Adherence, Generic Drugs To Improve Health Outcomes and Reduce Costs


Orlando, FL (October 15, 2013) — Independent community pharmacies are increasingly focused on helping patients stick to their medication (or “medication adherence”) and saving money through the appropriate use of lower-cost generic drugs, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association’s (NCPA) 2013 NCPA Digest, sponsored by Cardinal Health. The Digest, the most comprehensive analysis of the independent community pharmacy marketplace, is available to NCPA members as a benefit of their membership and the latest edition was first shared with attendees of the National Community Pharmacists Association’s (NCPA) 115th Annual Convention and Trade Exposition in Orlando.

“Independent community pharmacists are playing a larger role than ever in improving health and cutting costs through the promotion of medication adherence and proper use of generic drugs,” said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA. “The Digest reinforces the value and diverse nature of the care provided by trusted, community pharmacists. Small business community pharmacy owners and pharmacists look forward to continuing to work to help policymakers and health plan sponsors enhance patient outcomes and reduce expenses.”

According to the NCPA Digest, community pharmacists are tackling the medication adherence issue head-on. Roughly half (48 percent) of all independent community pharmacies offer patients adherence counseling services, a notable increase from the 39 percent in the previous survey. The number of community pharmacies providing adherence phone call or text reminders nearly doubled, surging to 39 percent from 22 percent. Medication Adherence in America: A National Report Card, released earlier this year, finds that Americans 40 and older with a chronic medical condition earn a troubling C+ on average and that one in seven members of this group received an F when it comes to taking their medications correctly.

In addition, community pharmacists reached a new record high frequency in generic drug utilization, dispensing them 77 percent of the time. Community pharmacists routinely consult with physicians about proper prescription drug therapy and pharmacists’ recommendations for generic drug use are accepted 83 percent of the time.

Other noteworthy findings include:

  • The number of total independent community pharmacies is estimated to be 23,029, a tick below the 23,106 of the previous year.
  • Prescription sales volume decreased slightly, led by declining refill rates, possibly due to mandatory mail order pharmacy requirements or other limitations imposed on patient choice.
  • Pre-tax net profits for these small businesses remained essentially flat at three percent.
  • For the first time, a majority share of the prescription transactions at independent community pharmacies came from two programs: Medicare (33 percent of prescriptions) and Medicaid (18 percent).
  • Independent community pharmacies continue to be a lifeline for underserved areas, particularly rural ones, as 53 percent of these pharmacies are located in areas populated by 20,000 people or less.
  • The number of community pharmacies offering patient charge accounts grew to 75 percent, reflecting how these providers help patients afford their medications.
  • While prescription volume decreased slightly, overall sales increased marginally as pharmacy owners further diversified their business model. Common niche services offered by community pharmacies include same-day home delivery; durable medical equipment; compounding and immunizations.

“Cardinal Health is proud to again sponsor the 2013 NCPA Digest, a comprehensive report to help pharmacy owners make smarter business decisions,” said Ron Clerico, vice president of retail marketing at Cardinal Health. “We realize that community pharmacists play a unique role in helping improve our nation’s health care system. Healthcare is changing and we must evolve to meet new expectations. It is more important than ever for community pharmacies to understand the current thinking and trends. The NCPA Digest is an excellent resource that encourages pharmacy owners to think differently about their business in order to thrive in today’s competitive market.”

The 2013 NCPA Digest is a snapshot of the independent pharmacy based on the most recent, year-long data available, from 2012.

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