Consumers Have Broad Access to Pharmacy Choices In Urban, Suburban, Rural Areas

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Access Prescription Medications

Consumers have broad access to pharmacy choices in urban, suburban, and rural areas, as an average of 21 pharmacies are located and compete near independent pharmacies throughout the United States.

"These data confirm that consumers have widespread access to a variety of pharmacy options in urban, suburban, and rural areas," said PCMA President Mark Merritt. "On average, consumers have access to twenty-one competing pharmacies located near their current pharmacy. Since nearly all pharmacies are part of PBM networks, this competitive pharmacy marketplace provides consumers with a number of options when purchasing their prescription drugs."

Key findings from SK&A include:

-- American consumers currently have access to nearly 59,000 retail pharmacies widely dispersed in urban, suburban, and rural areas throughout the country.

-- About 38 percent of pharmacies nationwide are independently owned. More than 70 percent of independent pharmacies are located in urban areas.

-- On average, a consumer patronizing an independent pharmacy in the United States has access to 21 competing pharmacies located near their current pharmacy. These competitors include chain pharmacies, supermarket pharmacies, mass merchant pharmacies, and other independent pharmacies:

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-- In urban areas -- where most independent pharmacies are located -- consumers patronizing independents have access to 30 competing pharmacies within two miles of their current pharmacy.

-- In suburban areas, independent pharmacy consumers have access to 7 competing pharmacies located within 5 miles of their current pharmacy.

-- Independent pharmacy consumers in rural areas typically have access to 14 competing pharmacies located with 15 miles of their current pharmacy.

SK&A used Medicare's pharmacy access standards in Medicare Part D as a guide to calculate consumers' access to pharmacies. The Medicare Part D/TRICARE pharmacy standards for urban, suburban, and rural areas are:

-- Urban Areas: At least 90 percent of beneficiaries in the plan's service area, on average, live within 2 miles of a participating retail pharmacy. Urban areas include zip codes in which the population density is greater than 3,000 individuals per square mile.

-- Suburban Areas: At least 90 percent of beneficiaries in the plan's service area, on average, live within 5 miles of a participating retail pharmacy. Suburban areas include zip codes in which the population density is between 1,000 and 3,000 individuals per square mile.

-- Rural Areas: At least 70 percent of beneficiaries in the plan's service area, on average, live within 15 miles of a participating retail pharmacy. Rural areas include zip codes in which the population density is less than 1,000 individuals per square mile.

In addition to having a number of pharmacy options in Medicare Part D, beneficiaries are also seeing significant savings in the program. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Medicare prescription drug plans (PDPs) achieved higher-than-expected savings of 29 percent during 2006 and are on track to save Medicare and its beneficiaries $469 billion over the 2006-2015 period.

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