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Independents grew market share in 2017, despite dispensing volume drop

Independent pharmacies in England increased their market share in 2017 despite falling dispensing volume and closing GP practices, data analysts have concluded.

Iqvia – formally IMS Health – used data from wholesalers and the NHS Business Services Authority to plot how independents performed in the 12 months up to October 2017, in terms of market value, drug tariff price and dispensing volume.

Speaking to C+D after her session at Sigma Pharmaceuticals’ annual conference in Borneo yesterday (February 12), Iqvia director of information offerings Carole Alexandre said that despite the funding cuts across England, independent pharmacies’ share of the market “was not impacted” last year.

“We’ve seen the market, the number of items dispensed, [and] the number of prescribers [all] shrink,” Ms Alexandre said during her presentation.

“Despite that, independents are actually improving [their] performance,” she told delegates, pointing to a 3.5% growth in market share.

Independents have “increased [their] share across every region” of England, she added.

Reduction in GP numbers

The closure of GP practices, and decreasing “prescriber churn”, contributed to a 1.2% drop in the number of items dispensed by independents over the 12-month period, compared with a sector-wide drop of 1.1%, Ms Alexandre said.

The average independent pharmacy in England received prescriptions from 47 GP practices in that time, a 1.3% drop compared with the previous year, Iqvia’s analysis showed.

“What we have seen in the last 12 months is a net reduction of 112 GP practices [across England]”, Ms Alexandre explained. The number of GPs fell by “approximately” 1,200 over the same period, she added.

However, the “good news story” is that independent pharmacies’ increased market share “in that declining market”, showing that “you are managing to adapt to the change in this environment”, she told delegates.

“We have seen managed [pharmacy] chains decreasing their market share, the rest is pretty stable,” she summarised.

Ms Alexandre also highlighted that 4% of all prescriptions dispensed in England between November 2016 and October 2017 originated in Wales.

Did you see your dispensing volume fall last year?

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