Supermarket Pharmacies Deliver Strong Results in Changing Market: Study

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Supermarket Pharmacies Deliver Strong Results in Changing Market: Study

Supermarket pharmacies continue to post strong and steady performance figures in a volatile marketplace, according to a new study released yesterday by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI).

"Pharmacies are strategically essential to food retailers," said Catherine Polley, FMI v.p., pharmacy services. "The health and wellness initiatives that many supermarkets emphasize are anchored in the pharmacy. Pharmacists bring expertise and credibility that help these initiatives succeed."

Among the key findings of "Supermarket Pharmacy Trends 2008" are:

- The median number of prescriptions dispensed per day was 126 in 2007, comparable to 125 in 2006 and up from 120 the previous two years.
- Median weekly prescription sales per store rose to $46,000, from $42,000 in 2006.
- Prescription sales as a percentage of total store sales held steady at 9.4 percent, compared with 9.5 in 2006, although above the 9 percent reported in 2005 and 6 percent in 1997.
- The generic drug share of prescription volume increased to 63.5 percent, from 58.0 percent.

In addition, the study found that supermarket pharmacists are offer a growing array of health and wellness services, often working closely with other healthcare specialists such as dieticians and nurse practitioners. Nearly half of food retailers (48.1 percent) provide health seminars, disease management programs, health-focused shelf tags, and store tours of healthy products in at least some of their stores.

Other grocer health and wellness offerings include:
- Walk-in clinics (38.5 percent of grocers)
- Nutrition counseling (32.7 percent)
- Health-focused recipes (30.8 percent)
- 340B drug programs -- reduced pricing for the uninsured (19.2 percent)

More supermarket pharmacies are also offering medication therapy management (MTM) services, responding to the growing use of medicines and the need to guard against adverse effects and interactions.

As many as 83.6 percent of companies offer or plan to offer MTM programs, up from 72 percent in 2006. Nearly half (49.1 percent) already offer these services - including 12.7 percent in all their stores, and 34.5 percent plan to offer MTM programs.

The medical conditions most often treated with these programs are:
- Diabetes (95.0 percent)
- High blood pressure (60 percent)
- Heart disease (50 percent)
- High cholesterol (50 percent)

Supermarket pharmacies remain challenged in recruiting and retaining staff, according to the study. More than one-third (37 percent) fill the gaps by hiring contract workers for various periods of time. To help entice pharmacists, grocers provide a wide range of benefits to them. These include:
- Performance bonuses (69.8 percent)
- Additional vacation (66 percent)
- Signing bonuses (60.4 percent)
- Continuing education reimbursement (52.8 percent)

Among full-time workers, the turnover rate for pharmacists is 5 percent and for technicians 8 percent, compared with 14 percent for all supermarket employees. Among part-timers, the difference is even greater: 4 percent and 10 percent for pharmacists and technicians, respectively, compared with the overall supermarket turnover rate of 61 percent.

To purchase the report, visit or call 202-220-0723.