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The Dose: August 2018 Issue

The Dose a pharmacy staffing blog


Get your monthly Dose of the latest in pharmacy news. We deliver industry highlights straight to your inbox, so you can keep your finger on the industry’s pulse.  Click here to sign up now! From reasons why small independent pharmacies are on the decline to America’s staggering STD rates, this is what’s happening for August.


Why small independent pharmacies are on the decline


A recent report by the RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis found that over 1,200 independently owned pharmacies closed between 2003 and 2018, dropping the total number down to 6,393.


According to many pharmacists and other industry experts, one of the driving forces for this phenomenon is the low reimbursement rates pharmacy benefit managers set for drugs. These practices can be a conflict of interest for those PBMs who also own retail pharmacies or mail-order drug facilities.


For small pharmacies that rely almost entirely on prescription drug revenue, they get hit the hardest. As Michael Swanoski, senior associate dean at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy, notes:


Most of the independent pharmacies, most of what they make comes from reimbursements from medications, whereas for large chains, it’s a very small aspect of where their revenue is coming from. They have retail sales to keep them afloat, and prescriptions just get customers in the door so they can spend money on other things.


Of course, there are other factors at play here, such as the implementation of Medicare D and the widespread use of low-cost generic drugs. What matters most though is that, until the market changes, these independent pharmacies—and the underserved communities they provide for—will struggle.


What do you think: Are PBMs to blame for the decline of small independent pharmacies, or is there another factor I didn’t mention? I would love to get your opinion on the issue.


ID diagnostics market projected to be $21 billion industry by 2022


A new report estimates that the global market for infectious disease diagnostics will reach $21 billion by 2022. Analysts cited two main driving factors in their projections. The first being the high prevalence of IDs, and the second is the demand for rapid diagnostic procedures.


On the flip side, the analysts also acknowledge potential challenges to the market’s growth. For one, the rising costs of healthcare will deter people from using expensive diagnostic tests. And another challenge is the bureaucratic regulatory processes that slow down approvals for new diagnostic tests.


For more information on market trends and projections, check out the full article here.


American STD rates at an all-time high


In other ID news, America hit a record high in STD rates for the fourth year in a row, with chlamydia being the most commonly diagnosed.


A more concerning trend, however, has been the rise of syphilis rates, increasing a whopping 76% since 2013. Dr. Gail Bolan, the director of the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, says of these developments:


We are now very concerned about this steep and sustained increase that we’re seeing. We’ve seen an ebb and flow of STDs in decades past, but now we’re at the highest level of our reportable conditions that we’ve seen in two decades.


Gonorrhea diagnoses have also skyrocketed, rising 67% since 2013. What’s worse is that this bacteria is highly adaptive, and its drug-resistant strains are becoming more prevalent. According to Bolan, it’s “only a matter of time before the organism’s going to outsmart us.”


The CDC has not reported any signs of drug-resistance in chlamydia or syphilis yet, but that’s not to say we shouldn’t be developing new antibiotics and treatment options for these diseases as well.