What is the future of community / retail pharmacies and independent pharmacy practices?

Today’s guest post comes from F. Randy Vogenberg, PhD, Chief Transformation Officer at EPIC (the Employer-Provider Interface Council).

It probably will vary depending on a) URBAN, SUBURBAN, RURAL geographic location, and b) scope of practice situation.

Think about veterinary pharmacy, specialty and compounding pharmacy versus traditional “retail” pharmacy.  It’s going to be less about dispensing physical products except when regulated by law (narcotics) for sure. We’ve also seen long term care pharmacy practices consolidate within 30 years to just two major players, and PBMs to just 3-4 major players (90+% of market business).
The model of wholesale supported retailers likely to remain for years but may also be susceptible to fewer numbers (AmerisourceBergen, McKesson).  In rural areas like Maine and South Carolina they are strong but not in big city areas where they are much weaker.
Hospitals are another factor in the availability of medicines and likely to play a greater role with biologics along with direct to consumer methods of shipping that were pioneered during the Covid pandemic. It is still early in the evolution of health care systems, and the Covid pandemic created many distracting short-term trends or financial limitations not previously anticipated.
Overall, short-term (3-5 years) availability of community / retail pharmacies and independent pharmacy practices will remain a factor nationally.  Many micro-shifts occurred during the pandemic that may not survive post-pandemic beyond a few years.  This includes the role of hospitals pre versus post-pandemic, reinforced by the burgeoning emergence of new technologies (medicines and medical tech) that are now beginning to flood the U.S. market.