Magazine article Drug Topics

Changes and Challenges

Magazine article Drug Topics

Changes and Challenges

Article excerpt

VS Corp. president/CEO Thomas Ryan, who is also chairman of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, challenged pharmacy students at Ohio Northern University to have the flexibility and creativity to face the challenges of practicing pharmacy in the 21 st century.

"As we prepare for the new millennium, we must all come to the understanding and realization that a prescription no longer will be only a three-by-five piece of paper and that a pharmacy will not be practiced solely within the four walls of a store," Ryan told more than 400 students and faculty of the university's Raabe College of Pharmacy. "If we are going to take an expanded role in health care, we must expand our offerings and the way in which we practice pharmacy on a day-today basis."

Ryan pointed out that while the number of pharmacies in the United States declined from 59,000 to 51,000 and the number of independents decreased from 32,000 to just over 20,000 between 1990 and 1997, the number of prescriptions dispensed increased from 1.9 billion to 2.6 billion during that time span. Estimates are that pharmacies may be filling close to 4 billion Rxs by 2006.

Looking at it another way, Ryan said the average pharmacy was filling 660 prescriptions per week in 1990 and 1,000 per week in 1997, and it could be filling as many as 2,000 prescriptions per week by 2005.

To cope with the increased demand, Ryan said pharmacy "must explore new methods of dispensing prescriptions." Taking advantage of advances in technology, such as central dispensing and automation, will allow pharmacists "to have the time to offer appropriate patient care and be able to dispense how and when the patient" chooses and free the pharmacists from dispensing-related tasks to perform more point-of-care functions. …

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