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Pharmacy pay renews surge

BY Jim Frederick

NEW YORK —When it comes to operating retail pharmacies, pharmacists are still in the driver’s seat. The pay rate for pharmacists continues to surge beyond the six-figure threshold, according to the 2008 Pharmacy Compensation Survey from Mercer, a research and consulting firm. Behind the seemingly unstoppable rise in salaries is an inescapable economic reality: the demand for pharmacists continues to outstrip the supply emerging from the fewer than 90 U.S. pharmacy schools graduating new professionals each year.

The newest Mercer survey shows a 5.8 percent rise from 2007 levels in the average salary, including bonuses, for a retail staff pharmacist, to $108,700. Other pharmacists also experienced a year-over-year increase in pay including hospital pharmacists, who saw an average pay hike of 6.5 percent, and clinical pharmacists, whose pay rose an average of 5.2 percent.

The position of pharmacy team manager showed the strongest growth, up 8.1 percent.

“The ongoing shortage of pharmacy professionals continues to drive up pay,” said David Dross, principal with Mercer’s managed pharmacy benefit business. “With the need for more pharmacists growing as baby boomers age and need more medications, pharmacy operators are continuing to raise salaries to attract pharmacists and remain competitive.

“In addition to the demand for pharmacists outpacing the available talent pool, other factors, such as the number of outlets offering pharmacies and greater opportunities in terms of environment, type of work and flexible schedules, have contributed to higher salaries for pharmacy professionals,” Dross added.

Average pay ranged from a high of $118,000 a year in San Jose, Calif., to cities like Omaha, Neb., where the average was $97,200, according to Mercer.

Pharmacist, technician compensation

Source: Mercer*median total cash compensation
Job Title 2008 2007 2006
Pharmacy Team Manager $118,000 $109,200 $104,300
Staff Pharmacist—Retail 108,700 102,800 98,600
Staff Pharmacist—Hospital 105,200 98,800 95,600
Clinical Pharmacist 105,000 99,800 93,900
Pharmacy Technician 23,000 22,500 21,800

Fueling the steady rise in pay is a workload—and with it the need for staff pharmacists—that is rising faster than the available talent pool. “Between 2004 and 2010 the supply of all community pharmacists is expected to increase only 7.8 percent, versus an estimated 27 percent increase in number of prescriptions dispensed…from 3.27 billion in 2003 to over 4.1 billion in 2010,” noted the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

As of early 2007, 3,904 chain pharmacist positions were open and unfilled, according to NACDS research, including openings for 3,579 full-time staff and 325 part-timers.

The Mercer survey, conducted semi-annually, contains detailed information on pay levels and pay practices for pharmacy personnel reported in more than 380 metropolitan areas across the United States. Survey participants include major retail pharmacy operators (drug store and supermarket chains), as well as mail-order/online pharmacy firms and hospitals/healthcare systems. The survey reflects data submitted by 172 organizations covering more than 242,120 pharmacy employees in 23 different jobs. Supporters of the survey include such retailers as CVS, Kroger, Longs, Rite Aid and Walgreens.

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Walgreens donates food, supplies as new storms target Gulf, Southeast

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens has sent truckloads of food, water and emergency supplies to Baton Rouge, La., to aid with continuing Hurricane Gustav relief efforts.

Among the necessities shipped to hard-hit residents: water, trail mix, granola bars and other snack items, along with infant formula and diapers. Walgreens reports it is also gathering supplies to place on standby for a swift response to new emergency requests across the nation’s southeast coast with the expected arrival of Tropical Storm Hanna this weekend and Hurricane Ike next week.

“We’ll direct critical resources to communities in need,” said Walgreens director of community affairs John Gremer. “We’re on alert, and we’ll be ready to help wherever we can.”

The company notes there is still “tremendous need in many Baton Rouge communities,” which were among the hardest hit by Gustav. “Thousands remain without electricity, and food and water are still in high demand,” the company reports.

Another priority is getting any stores that were closed due to the storm back open quickly, according to the chain. As of Friday morning, Walgreens reported, “all but one of Walgreens’ 15 Baton Rouge stores are open. Across the Gulf Coast region, only nine remain closed down from 69 closed immediately following the storm.”

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Rite Aid donates $44,500-plus in supplies for Gustav evacuees

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. To further assist evacuees of Hurricane Gustav, The Rite Aid Foundation is donating more than $44,500 worth of supplies including water, snacks, sunscreen, hand sanitizer and other personal hygiene products as requested by the Louisiana Capital Area Chapter of the American Red Cross to be distributed at shelters for evacuees, the Foundation announced Friday

“Throughout the Gulf Coast, widespread flooding and violent wind damage have created an urgent need for disaster support,” stated Jeff Towers, chief development officer at the American Red Cross. “Rite Aid generously responded to this need through in-kind and financial support to help the Red Cross provide food, shelter and counseling to Gulf Coast communities during this hurricane season.”

Earlier this week, The Rite Aid Foundation made a $75,000 donation to the American Red Cross to help the victims, families and communities affected by Hurricane Gustav in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. A relief team of Rite Aid associates, including store cashiers and pharmacists, have traveled from Tennessee and unaffected areas of Louisiana and Alabama to help stores that have been impacted and to help reopen additional stores.

“One of Rite Aid’s core values is to be caring neighbors in the communities we serve, and we are happy to work with the American Red Cross to help the evacuees of Hurricane Gustav,” commented Mike Seesholtz, Rite Aid regional vice president for Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. “Our associates have been amazing in their commitment to do whatever they can to help the victims of Hurricane Gustav.”

Residents displaced by the hurricane can visit any open Rite Aid for their prescriptions because the company’s satellite-linked computer network assures a complete customer prescription history at any Rite Aid store. Because of the state of emergency, Rite Aid pharmacies also can access prescription information for patients who do not normally get their prescriptions at Rite Aid.

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