NACDS projects retail Rx sales increase

December 1, 2000

Pharmaceutical Representative

Total retail prescription drug sales for 2000 are expected to reach a record $143.5 billion, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

Total retail prescription drug sales for 2000 are expected to reach a record $143.5 billion, according to projections released by the Alexandria, VA-based National Association of Chain Drug Stores. The NACDS also predicts a 5.5% increase in the number of prescriptions dispensed in the retail pharmacy marketplace.

The NACDS estimate of 2000 year-end sales of $143.5 billion represents an increase of 18% over the 1999 year-end figure of $121.7 billion. According to the organization, chain community pharmacy will account for over 63% of these sales and will exceed $90.8 billion, up from $77.1 billion in 1999.

Additionally, the NACDS expects sales of over-the-counter medications in community pharmacies to reach $33.2 billion in 2000, an increase of 3.8% over the $32 billion in OTC sales in 1999. Over-the-counter sales in chain pharmacies this year are expected to exceed $31.5 billion, or 95% of OTC retail sales in stores with pharmacies.

"The chain pharmacy industry is very vibrant and continues to fill a key role in our healthcare system as an easily accessible source of high-quality healthcare services and products," read a statement from the NACDS. "The challenge of meeting ever-increasing consumer and health system demand for prescription drugs and pharmacy services requires that policy-makers and payers remove many of the administrative burdens on pharmacists that limit patient interaction."

Prescription volume

The NACDS predicts that there will have been 3.15 billion prescriptions filled by the end of the year, with 1.98 billion prescriptions coming from chain pharmacies, 1.3 billion from traditional chain drug stores, 307 million from mass merchant pharmacies and 397 million from supermarket chain pharmacies.

The NACDS projections are based on actual store experience for the first six months of this year, U.S. government sources of prescription sales data and data from Westport, CT-based IMS Health, which tracks pharmaceutical industry trends, as well as data from ACNielsen, Schaumburg, IL. The prescription volume projections include mail-order prescriptions converted to community pharmacy equivalents.

Future growth

The NACDS also projects that continuing growth in prescription volume will lead to approximately four billion prescriptions being dispensed in 2004 by retail pharmacies.

"With a 5.5% increase in total retail prescriptions projected for this year, building on last year's 8% volume increase, there is little doubt retail pharmacy will reach the $4 billion level in prescriptions by 2004," the NACDS statement noted. "This growth trend for the foreseeable future further documents the demand for additional pharmacists."

Major factors contributing to the increase in prescription volume include increasing utilization of prescription drugs, especially by the elderly (those over 65), and the introduction of new medicines that enable treatment of more serious illnesses outside the hospital setting. Additionally, the growth in managed care and its utilization of prescriptions is contributing to overall prescription use, as well as increased consumer awareness of drug therapy options from direct-to-consumer advertising by prescription drug manufacturers. PR

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