Let’s Play !!


The balance of this decade could look like a season of Survivor. Like some, I believe that there could be a lot of POTENTIALS for Pharmacists over the next decade+.  Most of the Pharmacists now in practice have always been the “hunted”, you could quit a job and find another one in days. Headhunters were always on the phone asking if you knew anyone looking for a job. When is the last you had a call from a headhunter?              Enough said !

Trends tend not to change until something collapses .. I don’t think that Pharmacy’s current trend has yet to reach that point. I don’t think that the majority of Pharmacist will transition from the “hunted”  to being the “hunter”.

Your “next job” is not going to come and drop in your lap.  You might end up working with a collaborative agreement on a shared revenue basis, commission basis and/or as a independent contractor.

Lets look at the trends: ESI has pushed on chain (Walgreens) to the brink of no longer being able to generate a profit with the most recent contract offer reportedly $1.40.. when these PBM started in the late 60’s paid a fee of around $2.00.. apply the CPI for the following years and you would end up with a $11.00 range today.

Pharmacist’s pay went up 12-15 times during the same period. You do the math… to get to a positive net profit for a Rx dept.

Just in the last 8-10 yrs the two major PBM’s ( ESI & MEDCO) has had their net pre-tax profits up FOUR TO SIX TIMES. While their control of the prescription market has grown from 50% to 90%+. There basic function is not that much different than that of a charge card system (VISA,MC, AMEX).

In the last two years.. the number of drug stores/pharmacy dept has grown by less than 1%. Walgreens has went from growing totally organically to >50% of their store count growth is from acquiring existing stores/regional chains. The demand for Pharmacists has leveled off… the industry doesn’t need that many new Pharmacists when the number of new stores are not increasing.

Man power… with 80 odd pharmacy schools.. for years or decades.. we seems to have a pretty good balance of supply and demand.. that is.. until the PharmD degree became the mandatory degree.. then with virtually no graduates for one year … allow with a dramatic growth of new stores and we had an acute shortage of Pharmacists.

Seemingly like the stock market of the late 90’s and the real estate market of the early-mid 2000’s… there was a NEW PARADIGM … the demand for Pharmacist was going to grow FOREVER… Academia started gearing up…more schools… more enrolled per class…

We now have newly licensed Pharmacists in some part of the country still haven’t settled on a job 6-12 months after graduating… We have middle-aged – senior Pharmacists that have been unemployed for a couple of years. Often these Pharmacists can’t even get a interview, let alone a job offering.

A 2010 labor survey in California suggested that a supply/demand equilibrium would be reached in 2012-2013 and a 25% surplus by 2017-2018.  While these numbers may or may not be representative of the entire country… a surplus of some degree seems common place.

The set of the SURVIVOR “Pharmacy island” is being staged… the corporations are adding service – vaccinations, blood pressures and the like… to be provided on demand… and you have been given how much added staffing?

It has been reported that 75% of the BOP’s have chain execs sitting on them… up until now… unless drug diversion is involved,  BOP”s have been rather reluctant to suspend or revoke a Pharmacist’s license. .. could that be because there was such a shortage and the influence of all sorts of corporate representatives on the various BOP’s?

Now that a surplus is forming, will it be a easier path for BOP’s to place blame for errors on individual Pharmacist rather than the systems that the corporations have created… again at the influence of those corporate pharmacy representatives… blaming individual Pharmacists will help the pharmacy corporation to protect their reputations.

It is the PIC going to find themselves between the corporate permit holder & BOP and the Rx dept staff?  The PIC is responsible to the BOP for the legal operation of the Rx dept. What if the PIC goes along with some “lame” corporate policy – think 15 minute guarantee. The staff starts filing complaints with the BOP over the operation of the Rx dept… errors that are being made… because of the work environment or other policies.

When SURVIVOR Pharmacy island gets in full swing .. just watch your back.. especially if you are the PIC !

2 Responses

  1. Deej we are all looking for something else to do. I applied for a position at an insurance company to perform DUR. A nurse was hired. I have no salary requirements…. Maybe I can be a greeter at W $%^&

  2. You speak the truth. I have been a retail pharmacist for twelve years and am very discouraged with the direction my profession is taking. I need to find something else to do…

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