NCPA Digest Finds Independent Community Pharmacists Cut Costs Through Generic Drugs; Boosting Patient Adherence



San Diego, CA (October 15, 2012) Independent community pharmacists helped reduce health care costs by dispensing a record number of lower-cost generic drugs in 2011 and reported more frequent interaction with physicians to promote the appropriate use of generics, according to the 2012 NCPA Digest, sponsored by Cardinal Health. The Digest, a comprehensive survey of the current state of independent community pharmacies, was released today at NCPA's 114th Annual Convention and Trade Exposition.

"The 2012 NCPA Digest, sponsored by Cardinal Health, provides fresh evidence of how trusted, community pharmacists are working with patients and their physicians to improve health outcomes while reducing costs," said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA. "Independent community pharmacists shattered their previous record in frequency of dispensing lower-cost generic drugs by raising the bar even higher in 2011. In addition, these small business health care providers are counseling patients face-to-face on the proper use of and adherence to their prescription drug regimen—making a dent in the estimated $290 billion in health care costs attributed to non-adherence.

"Community pharmacists are working more frequently with physicians and continue to play a vital role in improving health outcomes while reducing costs," Hoey added. "First, the Digest indicates that community pharmacists reached new highs in promoting the appropriate use of lower-cost generic drugs. Second, community pharmacists are increasingly offering physicians more recommendations for prescription drug therapy, including generic substitutes, and these suggestions continue to be accepted by doctors at a very high rate. In addition, these community pillars are disproportionately located in underserved rural and inner-city locations, where they provide a wide range of essential health services. These include immunizations, durable medical equipment, same-day home delivery and formulating customized medication treatments for individual patient needs."

Now in its 80th year, the NCPA Digest provides these noteworthy 2011 findings:

  • Independent community pharmacies set a new high in generic drug utilization, increasing their "generic dispensing rate" to 76 percent from 72 percent.
  • 7.9 times per day on average independent community pharmacists consulted with doctors about prescription drug therapy, marking a significant increase over prior years. Pharmacists are perennially recognized in Gallup polls as among the most trusted professionals and their recommendations to physicians were accepted 83 percent of the time, most commonly relating to the suggestion of generic drugs.
  • Fifty percent of these pharmacies now have a formal program to increase medication adherence (such as refill synchronization programs like Simplify My Meds).
  • The number of total independent community pharmacies increased slightly from 23,064 to 23,106 but have still not recovered to 2000 levels, when they totaled 24,861.
  • The pretax net profit margin for the average independent community pharmacy fell to 2.9 percent, its lowest level in five years. Similarly, the number of independent pharmacies operating at a net financial loss increased slightly and continues to account for roughly one in four of these pharmacies.
  • As the last Digest also found, 92 percent of revenue was derived from the sale of prescription drugs.
  • To help remain competitive, independent community pharmacies found efficiencies to reduce their dispensing costs slightly, from $12.44 to $12.19 per prescription.
  • Government-sponsored programs accounted for the largest share (49 percent) of their prescriptions.
  • The most common niche services offered by independents include same-day home delivery (82 percent of pharmacies offering it; most free of charge); compounding (66 percent); durable medical equipment (65 percent); and immunizations (60 percent).

"Cardinal Health is proud to sponsor the NCPA Digest, which provides information that helps retail independent pharmacy owners better understand the industry landscape and baseline their operations amongst their peers," said R.J. Padgitt, Director of Retail Independent Marketing at Cardinal Health. "Our desire is that retail independent pharmacy owners not only analyze the data but more importantly, they take action. In today's environment, it is becoming more important for retail independent pharmacies to compliment all of the services they are known for with those that were traditionally offered by other institutions. Our hope is the NCPA Digest is another tool that encourages retail independent pharmacy owners to think differently about their business."

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