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SUPERMARKET PRESCRIPTIONS GROW

WASHINGTON -- Supermarkets are outpacing other competitive channels in the struggle for prescription market share, according to a new study from the Food Marketing Institute, Washington, with mail order being the biggest threat."The supermarket sector has grown very fast and is the fastest-growing sector in retail pharmacy over the past decade, but if you consider mail order to be part of the retail

WASHINGTON -- Supermarkets are outpacing other competitive channels in the struggle for prescription market share, according to a new study from the Food Marketing Institute, Washington, with mail order being the biggest threat.

"The supermarket sector has grown very fast and is the fastest-growing sector in retail pharmacy over the past decade, but if you consider mail order to be part of the retail pharmacy market, then mail-order companies are actually the fastest growing," said Laurie Gethin, senior manager, pharmacy services, FMI.

Mail-service prescriptions dispensed from 2000 to 2004 have grown at a 47% rate, while supermarket pharmacies have seen a 20% growth rate, above mass merchandisers/chain drug stores at 14% and independent pharmacies at 6%, according to the 2005 Supermarket Pharmacy Trends study, which attributed statistics to IMS Health, Fairfield, Conn.

While the supermarket pharmacy has maintained a market share of 14% of prescriptions filled for the past five years, "sales growth is slowing down largely due to increasing competition from mail-order pharmacies," said Anne Marie-Roerink, FMI director of research. "Yet Rx is an important part of the supermarket business."

Mail-service companies hold a current 7% of the market share. "Supermarket pharmacy needs to look for other sources of revenue besides dispensing," commented Michele Snider, director of pharmacy, Save Mart Supermarkets, Modesto, Calif., in an essay included in the study.

"Although some chains are on the cutting edge of patient education and management programs, there is now a great opportunity for the advancement of patient care. Hopefully, the new Medicare Prescription Drug Program will give a jump start to Medication Therapy Management, an issue that has been discussed for years," she added.

Medication Therapy Management is a health care service that pharmacies are eligible to be reimbursed for under the new Medicare program.

"Over the next five years, the information and services provided by pharmacists to consumers will be as important as the medications being dispensed through their pharmacies," said John Fegan, senior vice president of pharmacy, Ahold USA, Quincy, Mass., in an essay included in the study.

Other challenges to supermarket pharmacy cited in the study include third-party sales, which are up to 88.9% and have increased every year since 1994; the debate over pharmaceutical importation, which 84% were opposed to based on safety concerns; and the persistent shortage of pharmacy staff.