Magazine article Drug Topics

New Chain Study Supports Need for More Ancillary Personnel

Magazine article Drug Topics

New Chain Study Supports Need for More Ancillary Personnel

Article excerpt

The chain drug industry is coming off another strong business year. And, anticipating volume of four billion prescriptions by 2004 from the current level of nearly three billion scripts, it's looking forward to a Golden Age in pharmaceutical and pharmacy sales. If there's a cloud on its horizon, it's the shortage of pharmacists, which officials of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores say continues to cast a shadow on the immediate future. (See Cover Story, page 42.)

The anticipated growth in numher of prescriptions will far outpace the number of pharmacists coming into the field--44% to 6%--said newly appointed NACDS president-CEO Craig Fuller at a press conference last month in New York City. He said NACDS will work closely with Congress on the development of a study to determine the extent of R.Ph. manpower shortages.

At the same time, organization leaders will continue to meet with pharmacy educators about developing programs or new schools to meet pharmacy's manpower needs. Meanwhile, the chain drug industry will continue pushing for changes in regulations to allow for an expansion in the technician-to-pharmacist ratio in more states, lift restrictions in the electronic transmission of prescriptions, and permit central dispensing. All of these have proved to be "safe and effective" ways of delivering medications to the public, according to Frank Newman, NACDS chairman and chairman-president-CEO of Eckerd Corp.

To support its position, NACDS released the findings of a pharmacy activity cost and productivity study conducted last July and August by Arthur Andersen LLP Funded by a grant from the NACDS Education Foundation, with "major support" from McKessonHBOC, the study attempted to identify store-based pharmacy-related activities and their cost. Researchers sent 354 surveys to 22 NACDS member companies, including traditional chain, supermarket, and mass-merchandiser pharmacies. From a total of 201 surveys returned, information was gathered on 89 activities. Among the key findings:

Pharmacists spend two-thirds of their time on nonclinical and nonjudgmental activities. They spend only 31% of their time on more substantive activities, such as reviewing and interpreting prescriptions, contacting doctors about approvals or clarification, and counseling patients. …

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