Independent Pharmacy: Trends to Know for 2018

Jan 30, 2018Independent Pharmacy Insights, Marketing Tips, Pharmacy Insights

With 2017 in the books, it’s time to turn our attention, once again, to what independent pharmacies might expect in the coming year. Industry trends change — often. And, independent pharmacies must stay up-to-date on these evolutions to remain successful.

Because these trends can have a dramatic effect on your pharmacy, we want to highlight a few of the more important trends to watch this year.

Promising Trends for 2018

Niche Pharmacies

Being successful in the independent pharmacy business can be as simple as being inventive. Some independent pharmacies are finding success by offering specialized niche services to soften the financial sting of DIR fees. Some examples of niche areas for a community pharmacy include:

  • Medication synchronization (enabling patients to pick up all prescribed meds on a single, convenient day) — can help boost profit by reducing operating expenses and increasing medication adherence;
  • Collaborative practice agreements with local medical community and organizations such as handling specific care function (Chronic Care Management); and
  • Value-based care initiatives that benefit both pharmacy and customer.

The 2017 NCPA Digest breaks down some of the more common niche services provided by independent pharmacies:

Pharmacy Expansion

Independent pharmacy owners welcome a challenge and, despite how challenging the marketplace has been for smaller community pharmacies, they’re finding ways to expand.

In fact, from 2014 to 2016, the number of stores owned by a community pharmacy owner rose slightly. Further, the number of community pharmacy owners increased to 29 percent in 2016, up from 27 percent the previous year.

Growth is seen mainly in underserved areas and this is where community pharmacies can (and do) have the greatest impact.

For example, in underserved areas, local pharmacies continue to be a vital resource for their communities. Aside from filling prescriptions, here are a few additional statistics that show the vital community services independent pharmacies offer.

  • 81 percent offer medication therapy management (MTM)
  • 67 percent provide immunizations
  • 57 percent perform blood pressure monitoring

Troubling Trends

DIR Fees

They’re back, they’ve grown, and they’re still driving down prescription sales and forcing pharmacies to move beyond dispensing prescriptions.

The continued growth of preferred networks makes it very difficult for smaller pharmacies to grab a piece of the Medicare Part D patient segment, resulting in lost revenue and plummeting profit margins.

John Norton, Director of Public Relations at NCPA says, “Pharmacies must consider alternative revenue sources. They must identify a range of services available to pharmacy owners that can both meet important health and consumer demands while also boosting the bottom line.”

But, again, independent pharmacies are creative and have options, such as finding niches and filling them, or offering outside-the-box services while the DIR Fee and PBM discussion continues.

Closing Thoughts

Just as Mr. Norton said above, if pharmacies want to survive, they need to move beyond the single focus of filling prescriptions. With models shifting focus to value, quality, and positive outcomes, it’s time for smaller pharmacies to take a more critical look at the services they’re offering, how they’re offering them, and who they’re offering these services to.

Having a healthy understanding of the marketplace, and your pharmacy’s place within it, will continue to provide local pharmacy owners with opportunities to remain necessary and relevant to their communities.

Has your pharmacy adopted any niche services? How have these services influenced — positively or negatively — your pharmacy’s bottom line? We’d love to know and may even share those experiences in future blog posts, white papers, and e-books. If you’d like to add your experience, please contact

Finally, be sure to follow this blog for more tips, insights and bulletins that can help grow your pharmacy and save you money – all from your partners at AlliantRx.