NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 13, 2005

Next year's new Medicare drug benefit is expected to increase the nation's demand for pharmacists, who already are in short supply, say observers.

Besides paying for senior citizen's prescription drugs, the plans will also pay pharmacists to give advice to patients on prescription use. The increasing number of prescription drug users paired with an increasing number of responsibilities, has many questioning whether the shortage will result in crisis.

  • About 230,000 pharmacists were employed in 2002, and 25,000 more will be needed by 2012, according to the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Some 260,000 pharmacists would be needed by 2020, with an expected shortfall of 157,000.

The shortfall is largely being caused by the increased services patients and doctors are demanding from pharmacists, say observers.

Although the vacancies for drugstore pharmacist positions have declined from a record high in 2001, researchers continue to show concern. Hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and drugstores compete heavily with each other to fill their vacancies, plus, educational requirements and experience levels will also make these positions harder to fill, say observers.

Source: Marguerite Higgins, "Pharmacist shortage seen rising in U.S.," Washington Times, January 8, 2005.


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