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NCPA Releases 2017 Digest

by NCPA | Oct 16, 2017

Annual benchmarking report serves as a barometer for community pharmacy

ORLANDO, Fla. (Oct. 16, 2017) The 2017 NCPA Digest, sponsored by Cardinal Health, was unveiled today at the National Community Pharmacists Association's Annual Convention in Orlando, Fla. The annual benchmarking survey finds that independent community pharmacies continue to strengthen and expand the scope of services they offer patients while absorbing lower reimbursements for dispensing prescription drugs.

For eight decades the annual NCPA Digest has served as an important barometer for independent community pharmacy owners to quantifiably measure themselves as the pharmacy marketplace gets more competitive.

"Independent community pharmacies remain indispensable for patients, especially in underserved communities, according to the latest NCPA Digest," said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, Pharmacist, MBA. "This occurs because of the quality of services, which are growing as pharmacists find new ways to drive better health outcomes for their patients, and through civic engagement in their communities."

The NCPA Digest found independent community pharmacies offer a variety of services: 86 percent offer medication therapy management; 74 percent provide immunizations; 61 percent perform blood pressure monitoring; and 52 percent furnish durable medical goods. From a philanthropic standpoint, nearly 69 percent of all independent community pharmacy owners donated to at least five local organizations in 2016.

According to Steve Lawrence, senior vice president of Retail Independent Sales at Cardinal Health, "As the 2017 NCPA Digest indicates, in the evolving health care landscape, pharmacists will continue to offer more clinical services to serve their patients. We'll see independent pharmacies leading the way in offering the services and care patients need to stay adherent to their medications and remain healthy."

Highlights from the NCPA Digest covering the 2016 independent community pharmacy marketplace include:

  • The estimated number of independent community pharmacies is 22,041, down slightly from last year's total of 22,160.

  • Community pharmacies represent 36 percent of the retail pharmacy marketplace.

  • Eighty-one percent of community pharmacies serve population areas of 50,000 or less.

  • More than 200,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) individuals are employed by these pharmacies, bolstering state and local economies and tax revenue.

  • Prescription volume decreased from 60,493 prescriptions annually in 2016 to 59,746 in 2017, likely due in part to 90-day refill requirements, patients being steered to PBM-owned mail order pharmacies, and exclusionary pharmacy network arrangements.

  • Generic drugs comprise 84 percent of all prescriptions dispensed.

  • Fifty-two percent of total prescriptions are covered by the Medicare Part D and Medicaid programs.

  • Ninety percent of community pharmacies are offering some type of medication adherence program.

  • Below-cost reimbursements, exacerbated by DIR fees in Medicare Part D, contribute to gross margins falling by 5 percent over the past five years.


About NCPA
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents the interests of America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 22,000 independent community pharmacies. Together they represent an $80 billion health care marketplace and employ more than 250,000 individuals on a full- or part-time basis. To learn more, go to, visit, or follow NCPA on Twitter @Commpharmacy.

About Cardinal Health
Cardinal Health, Inc. is a global, integrated healthcare services and products company, providing customized solutions for hospitals, healthcare systems, pharmacies, ambulatory surgery centers, clinical laboratories and physician offices worldwide. The company provides clinically proven medical products and pharmaceuticals and cost-effective solutions that enhance supply chain efficiency from hospital to home. Cardinal Health connects patients, providers, payers, pharmacists and manufacturers for integrated care coordination and better patient management. Because Cardinal Health helps ensure pharmacists and the consumers they serve have access to medications they need while working to help prevent prescription drug diversion, the company and its education partners created Generation Rx, a national program to help prevent the misuse of prescription medications. Backed by nearly 100 years of experience, with approximately 50,000 employees in nearly 60 countries, Cardinal Health ranks #15 on the Fortune 500. For more information, visit, follow @CardinalHealth on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn at company/cardinal-health.