Pharmacies Anchor Health and Wellness Programs

ARLINGTON, VA — July 16, 2008 — In a volatile marketplace, supermarket pharmacies continue to post strong and steady performance figures, according to Supermarket Pharmacy Trends 2008, which was released here today by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI). Among the key findings:

  • The median number of prescriptions dispensed per day was 126 in 2007, comparable to 125 in 2006 and up from 120 the previous two years.

  • Median weekly prescription sales per store rose to $46,000, from $42,000 in 2006.

  • Prescription sales as a percentage of total store sales held steady at 9.4 percent, compared with 9.5 in 2006, although above the 9.0 percent reported in 2005 and 6.0 percent in 1997.

  • The generic drug share of prescription volume increased to 63.5 percent, from 58.0 percent.

     “Pharmacies are strategically essential to food retailers,” said Catherine Polley, FMI vice president, pharmacy services. “The health and wellness initiatives that many supermarkets emphasize are anchored in the pharmacy. Pharmacists bring expertise and credibility that help these initiatives succeed.”

Supermarket Pharmacies Offer Broad Range of Health Services

Supermarket pharmacists offer a growing array of health and wellness services, often working closely with other healthcare specialists such as dieticians and nurse practitioners. Nearly half of food retailers (48.1 percent) provide health seminars, disease management programs, health-focused shelf tags and store tours of healthy products in at least some of their stores. Significant numbers also offer:

  • Walk-in clinics, 38.5 percent.

  • Nutrition counseling, 32.7 percent.

  • Health-focused recipes, 30.8 percent.

  • 340B drug programs (reduced pricing for the uninsured), 19.2 percent.

Medication Therapy Management Services Growing

More supermarket pharmacies are offering medication therapy management (MTM) services, responding to the growing use of medicines and the need to guard against adverse effects and interactions.

     As many as 83.6 percent of companies offer or plan to offer MTM programs, up from 72.0 percent in 2006. Nearly half (49.1 percent) offer these services — including 12.7 percent in all their stores, and 34.5 percent plan to offer MTM programs. The medical conditions most often treated with these programs are:

  • Diabetes, 95.0 percent.

  • High blood pressure, 60.0 percent.

  • Heart disease, 50.0 percent.

  • High cholesterol, 50.0 percent.

Addressing the Pharmacist Shortage

Supermarket pharmacies, as with other parts of supermarket and warehouse operations, remain challenged in recruiting and retaining staff. More than one-third (37 percent) fill the gaps by hiring contract workers for various periods of time. Companies provide a wide range of benefits to pharmacists; in fact, more than half offer:

  • Performance bonuses, 69.8 percent.

  • Additional vacation, 66.0 percent.

  • Signing bonuses, 60.4 percent.

  • Continuing education reimbursement, 52.8 percent.

     These and other measures help control turnover. Among full-time workers, the turnover rate for pharmacists is 5 percent and for technicians 8 percent, compared with 14 percent for all supermarket employees. Among part-timers, the difference is even greater: 4 percent and 10 percent for pharmacists and technicians, respectively, compared with the overall supermarket turnover rate of 61 percent.


The data were gathered from surveys of 55 food retailers operating 4,978 pharmacies.

     To purchase the report ($95 for FMI retailer/wholesaler members, $150 for associate members and $195 for nonmembers), visit or call 202-220-0723.

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Food Marketing Institute (FMI) conducts programs in public affairs, food safety, research, education and industry relations on behalf of its 1,500 member companies — food retailers and wholesalers — in the United States and around the world. FMI’s U.S. members operate approximately 26,000 retail food stores and 14,000 pharmacies. Their combined annual sales volume of $680 billion represents three-quarters of all retail food store sales in the United States. FMI’s retail membership is composed of large multi-store chains, regional firms and independent supermarkets. Its international membership includes 200 companies from more than 50 countries. FMI’s associate members include the supplier partners of its retail and wholesale members.