Magazine article Drug Topics

After Grandma's House, Where Then?

Magazine article Drug Topics

After Grandma's House, Where Then?

Article excerpt

We began 2000 in a state of exuberance and wonder. By the end of the year, we learned that, turn of millennium or not, life goes on. It's been business as usual. Which is to say that, despite the craziness of this post-election period, we humans continued to seek ways to enrich our lives economically while trying to meet the needs of the communities we serve.

On the pharmacy business front, there were many ups and downs this year. More pharmacies jumped on the Web wagon, but on-line pharmacy sales didn't live up to the promise of 1999 when pharmacies like PlanetRx.com and drugstore.com came bursting into cyberspace. Almost everyone argued for a Medicare prescription drug benefit-and PBMs, pharmacy's bad guys for so long, were cast in a big, new role in the push for this coverage-but no bill ever reached the President's desk. The rush to herbals seemed to slow down, while direct-to-consumer Rx ads picked up steam, topping the $2 billion mark this year. Sickness didn't take a vacation, but flu vaccine supplies took some time off. Election year or not, the FDA approved the highly controversial RU-486 for early abortions under strict distribution rules. Pfizer's purchase of Warner-Lambert was a signal that blockbuster pharmaceutical mergers are not over. And remember Y2K?

Expectations for 2001

The Drug Topics/Hospital Pharmacist Report Business Outlook study offers a closer look at the fortunes-- or misfortunes-of some of pharmacy's major components-community (chain and independent) and health-system (hospital) pharmacies. Their stories are told separately starting on page 64. Here are some conclusions that could be drawn from a quick comparison of the community and health-system data:

*Chain respondents seemed to have a slightly better business year in 2000 than independents, but almost as many independents as chain respondents reported a very good/excellent year. Hospital pharmacies appeared to have the toughest time this year.

*As for 2001, 45% of the chain respondents and 35% of the independents are expecting very good/excellent business years for their drugstores. Hospital pharmacists seem much less optimistic; only 12% anticipate a very good/excellent year from a business standpoint-that is, in terms of reaching financial goals and contributing to their hospital's net revenue. …

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