Pharmacists Tell Hill Staffers the Facts on Prescriptions

Article excerpt

It's one thing for an independent pharmacy to lose a longtime customer to a health maintenance organization. But it's another when the customer returns with a prescription that she paid $29 for at the HMO when you've been charging her $49--just 10% above your acquisition cost--and you get accused of being a crook.

Calvin Anthony, owner of Tiger Drug Co. in Stillwater, Okla., shared that frustrating experience recently with a group of Congressional staffers who wanted to get a pharmacist-level view of Rx pricing.

Participating in the session with Anthony, president-elect of NARD, were Shirley McKee, a pharmacy zone coordinator for the Kroger Co. in Houston and a trustee-elect of the American Pharmaceutical Association, and Stephen W. Schondelmeyer, a pharmacist and economist who directs the PRIME Institute at the University of Minnesota School of Pharmacy. The hour-long seminar was sponsored by Sen. David Pryor (D, Ark.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Aging.

Schondelmeyer provided a grim overview of pharmacy economics for the past two decades: average Rx prices up by 51%, while the pharmacist's net profit/Rx fell 36%. How can a pharmacy survive those numbers? "We all work a little longer, work a little harder, and receive a little less," Anthony said. …