Independent Community Pharmacy Today

By Devin Stone

As the financial editor of the 2009 NCPA Digest, sponsored by Cardinal Health, I was responsible for calculating the statistics used in the report.  So I was disappointed to read a blog posting on Drug Channels that exaggerated the owner discretionary income for independent community pharmacy, estimating the figure to be $300,000.  

Opening any small business will entail very real financial risks, which means that a defined minimal expected rate of return is necessary as an incentive to encourage an entrepreneur to open a pharmacy rather than to work for an already existing retail establishment.   Reflecting that risk, the 2009 Digest data documented a net reduction in the overall number of independent community pharmacies – 590 fewer than the previous year.

It’s highly unlikely that a pharmacy owner will ever make a fraction of the kind of money PBM chiefs David Snow, George Paz, or Thomas Ryan. But through hard work these pharmacists can continue to keep their profession alive and relevant, with locally owned pharmacies that are staples of the community.

On a side note, it was particularly surprising for Drug Channels to criticize NCPA over transparency when Drug Channels/Pembroke Consulting does not disclose a meaningful list of paying clientele.   Given the opinions expressed on Drug Channels, advising readers of possible conflicts of interest would appear to be a prudent step.

Nevertheless, on the issue of transparency, the Digest is provided free of charge to all NCPA members and an electronic copy is sent to every pharmacy school in the country.  This makes it widely accessible and commonly used by academics and students, at no cost.  Like most trade associations, members receive certain additional benefits that non-members don’t have access too.

5 Responses to “Independent Community Pharmacy Today”

  1. 1 Adam J. Fein December 17, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Hi Devin,

    I posted a response to your response on my blog:

    NCPA Responds to Drug Channels.


  2. 2 Todd Eury December 17, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Interesting debate gentlemen. I find each story compelling in its own merit and would like to invite both of you to schedule a time with me to Podcast Interview this exact topic. “The Economical Survival of Independent Pharmacy in the U.S.” I talk with about 20 – 40 pharmacy owners per week. The majority of them – I’d say 75% of them are struggling financially. Many of them who need to upgrade and improve their technology/ operations in order to compete with Big-Box Nationals can’t afford the changes. Is there more information here? Is there more to understand about the profits generated by Independent pharmacy today? Is the future bleak or bright? I think there’s hope for the leaders in pharmacy who believe in creative marketing, business development strategies, and continue their dedication for improving the lives of their patients – sincerely! So – I’d like to extend an offer to interview both of you for an episode of the PTR Podcast. (Together or separate) It could be a great topic and exciting show.

  3. 3 Adam J. Fein December 17, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    I’m game if they are…Devin?

  4. 4 adamjfein December 18, 2009 at 4:53 pm


    I noticed the following comment from Bruce Roberts on his blog today:

    “All of us should be very thankful that 3.8 new independent pharmacies have been opening daily through the first eight months of this year.” (Source: NCPA Executive Update on the Web, 12/18/09)


  5. 5 WARREN G MEADOR December 29, 2009 at 8:22 am


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