Fading Prospects for Pharmacists

With Labor Day almost here (yeah – is it time yet?) we have to take a look at a pharmaceutical dispensing industry where everything seems to be going wrong on the employment front.  Useful to study, too because it’s the road a lot of other industries will be following and as such, is a useful “canary in the coal mine.”

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8 thoughts on “Fading Prospects for Pharmacists”

  1. Heard on radio last night Venizwala stock market at all time highs yet people staring in the streets. Stock market look good yet robbed blind

  2. “… today the largest casualty finally emerged on Wednesday when South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping, the country’s largest shipping firm and the world’s seventh-biggest container carrier, filed for court receivership after losing the support of its banks, leaving its assets frozen as ports from China to Spain denied access to its vessels.”


  3. Hi George et al–
    I have been a pharmacist for 32+ years, and have worked for Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens. I am currently licensed in two US states and one Canadian province. The picture is a bit murkier that your report, but I have to agree with the gist of it. Pharmacy is a good profession to get out of if possible, and not a good pick for the future, if you are young.
    Here in Canada, it’s a better work environment; The pharmacists here prescribe, and there is an extensive professional products class of drugs that can only be gotten with a Pharmacist consultation–Most of them are Rx-only in the US.

    Employee pharmacists are paid much less up here, but it’s a lot easier to open an independent pharmacy here and have a chance to stay in business.

    When you look at the EpiPen price gouge, I think everyone knows that retailing at 3 to 4X the acquisition cost is a hallmark of graft/payola. The only thing we don’t know is where the payola is ending up. And EpiPen is not the only gouge in the industry.

    For example, a few years ago I had a chance to study the price of a generic prescription nasal spray. The so-called “Average Wholesale Price” (AAWP) was about $70.00, meaning that an independent pharmacy would have to pay $70.00 to the wholesaler. Rx Insurance usually pays AWP + a couple of dollars, or minus 10%, and that is what determines the on-books profitability of the transaction. BUT, when you look up the actual acquisition cost of this spray in the off-limits section of the Enormo-Chain’s computer, you find that the huge chain(s) pay only $3.00 per unit to the wholesaler. So the chain pharmacy makes about 2000% on this transaction. The independent pharmacy may lose money on the same thing. This is an extreme example, but it is a rare prescription that yields less than 50% markup for the chains.
    This results in multiple screw-age; The Pharmacy Manager’s bonus is calculated on the AWP price, so s/he looks like a money loser. The insurance company passes on the giant price in the form of next year’s insurance increase, so the consumer is a loser too. You would expect the stock prices of the chain drug stores to skyrocket, but apparently their profits are declared based on the AWP. So, who gets the bulk of this enormous profit? I was never able to find out, but it sure wasn’t me….

    Also, the pharmacy schools are graduating record numbers of pharmacists, for which there will be no jobs. This drives the wage down, or it will. This is tragic, since their typical college debt is north of $100,000.00.

    Don’t take my word for it though– If you know any US Pharmacist personally, ask them…

    • Uhmm… I don’t know what Trump said about the Philippines, but I have been there and there is a large swath of the Philippines that is dealing with MILF (Yes, that is the TRUE Acronym.) If you are not familiar with this I would suggest you look up US Wages war against Muslim Terrorism in the Philippines. Mindanao, Zamboanga.

  4. It’s also evidence of the ‘dumbing-down’ of society – many stores figure that they don’t need a highly-trained Pharmacist when a Pharmacy Tech and a computer will do . . . problem is that you are dealing with people’s lives and nothing is one hundred percent when it comes to people – a Pharmacy Tech might not recognize some weird complication of a particular drug, whereas a Pharmacist, who after all has the four-year degree and years of pharmacy schooling vs. just a couple years of technical training for the Pharmacy Tech – they will have the have the ability to look at a client and advise them to go to the doctor (and many times call the doctor personally) ASAP.

    Because of financial concerns I attend a clinic where the drugs are handed out by pharmacy techs though they are supervised by a pharmacist, and you bet I read the data sheet that they provide with the medication. But then I have a university degree and can read this stuff – many people don’t understand . . .

    There are complaints that too many people are getting degrees – on the contrary, too many people are not getting the right kinds of degrees. Simply getting a technical degree may make you money, but do you really understand what is going on in the world? I appreciate my history degree, though I must admit that one of the areas I was interested in was ‘History of Science’.

    • No Pharmacist under the age of 70 has a 4 year degree. It became a 5-yr BS degree in the early 60’s and has required a 6-year PharmD degree since 2003

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