Supermarket Pharmacies Show Financial Stability: FMI Survey

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The whole health movement helped supermarket pharmacies maintain their financial stability in 2005, despite some major regulatory challenges, according to a new report from the Food Marketing Institute.

The report, "Supermarket Pharmacy Trends 2006," said whole health services for customers were among the factors that helped the segment compete successfully; others included an increased focus on technologies, such as electronic prescribing, and robotic prescription filling, and labeling systems.

The major challenges that hit pharmacies this past year included preparing for Medicare Part D; and complying with new laws restricting the sales of cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, which can be used illegally to produce methamphetamine.

"It is most impressive to see more supermarket pharmacies reaching beyond the prescription counter to help consumers improve their health and well-being," said Michael Sansolo, FMI s.v.p., in a statement. "In addition, the findings from this year's report are reassuring given the amount of regulatory change in pharmacy operations over the past 12 months."

Key findings in the report include:

-- The median number of prescriptions filled per day, 120, remained unchanged from 2004.

-- Prescription revenues remained at 9 percent of total store sales.

-- The median cost of a prescription increased slightly, to $55 from $53.

-- Responding pharmacies reported that eligible Medicare customers had little understanding of the new Part D prescription drug coverage. Only 2.3 percent of pharmacy respondents thought consumers had a good understanding of the programs, while 97.6 percent felt consumers had a poor or fair understanding.

-- Almost three quarters of all supermarket pharmacies are set up to accept e-prescriptions from physicians now, or will be by the end of 2006.

-- Two-thirds of all supermarket operators are using robotic prescription filling in at least one pharmacy. These systems remove drugs from shelves, fill containers with the prescribed amount, and print and attach the labels.

-- Supermarket pharmacies reported an average of 12 inventory turns per year. At one turn higher than last year's findings, this could reflect the growing number of drugs being dispensed by the pharmacy versus over-the-counter.

-- Almost 85 percent of pharmacies use loss prevention equipment such as cameras and key controls to deter internal theft and monitor product movement behind the pharmacy counter.

-- Health seminars and health-focused recipes top the list of in-store services, with 54.3 percent of pharmacies offering each. Meanwhile 52.2 percent give store tours, showing customers where to find healthful products.

-- Pharmacy employee turnover is lower than supermarket employee turnover. Creative benefits for pharmacists include performance bonuses, sign-on bonuses, additional vacation, continuing education, reimbursement, relocation, licensing fees and professional membership fees.

For more information on the report, visit the FMI Store at or call 202-220-0723.
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