FMI Study Features Essays, Independent-Chain Comparison and Consumer Profiles

WASHINGTON, DC — September 19, 2005 — Food retailers are expanding pharmacy operations in size and scope during a period of regulatory reform and competition from alternative sources, according to a new report from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), 2005 Supermarket Pharmacy Trends.

“Pharmacy services provide today’s supermarkets with a competitive edge and an opportunity to fulfill a real customer need,” said Anne-Marie Roerink, FMI director of research. “The retail pharmacy marketplace is ever-changing, and the business faces inherent pressures, from economic fluctuations to regulatory obligations.”

New government programs such as the Medicare prescription drug benefit, a nationwide pharmacist shortage and fast-changing customer demographics pose major challenges for retail pharmacies, according to the report.

Key Findings

  • Growth: Food retailers expect 4.9 percent growth in the number of pharmacies in 2005, down from 7.6 percent projected last year. Independent operators predict substantially greater pharmacy development (9.3 percent) than chain stores (4.6 percent). The typical pharmacy department measures 538 square feet this year, up from 475 — driven by the addition of nutrition counseling, over-the-counter medications and specialty services.

  • Prescriptions Filled: The median number of prescriptions filled daily per pharmacy dropped to 120 last year from 127 in 2003, and the overall number of prescriptions filled declined as well. As many as 93 percent of respondents cite increasing availability of mail-order prescriptions as the chief reason, up from 64 percent. The average prescription sale increased to $53.00 from $51.05.

  • Staffing: Pharmacy staffing shortages continue to challenge all retail pharmacies. More than half (56 percent) of respondents report a moderate or severe shortage, up from 38 percent in 2003. Pharmacy technicians, meanwhile, are more readily available. More than two-thirds reported minimal shortages and none a severe shortage.
  • Pharmaceutical Imports: The majority (84 percent) of respondents oppose pharmaceutical importation, citing economic implications and the poor drug quality that could result from counterfeiting.

  • Generic Sales: Prescription volume and sales from generic drugs reached an all-time high in 2004. Generics accounted for 50 percent of the total volume and nearly 19 percent of total sales, up from 48 percent and 18 percent the year before.

The report features profiles of the supermarket pharmacy consumer, essays from pharmacy executives, an analysis comparing chain and independent operator pharmacy operations, and a legislative brief on pharmacy priorities.

The 2005 Supermarket Pharmacy Trends is based on an Internet survey of pharmacy operations executives at 65 companies representing 4,200 U.S. supermarkets. Survey data is derived from 2004 operating results.

To purchase the report (PDF copies are $50 members, $100 associate members, $150 nonmembers; additional charge for printed copies), visit the FMI Store at