New Data Reveal a Stable Independent Pharmacy Market

(Washington, D.C.) — New data from the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) database, highlighted today by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), shows that the independent retail pharmacy market in the United States is stable.

Over the last 10 years, the number of independent pharmacies nationwide increased by 1,719 stores or 8%. During the last five years, the independent marketplace has experienced small fluctuations from year-to-year, sometimes gaining stores, sometimes losing stores. The recent small fluctuations in overall number of stores have not dramatically shifted the independent pharmacy market. In fact, during that time the number of independent pharmacies increased by 1.2%.

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“Independent pharmacies are a critical access point for patients to get their medications. Pharmacy benefit managers, PBMs, rely on partnering with independent pharmacies to achieve our shared objective of helping patients get and stay on their medications, leading to better health outcomes and greater affordability,” said PCMA President and CEO JC Scott. “Having an independent pharmacy market that has increased over the last 10 years is important to our shared mission, as are continued efforts to drive pharmacy quality and value to meet evolving consumer and patient needs. The data released today – coming from NCPDP, the gold standard of pharmacy data – provides important, objective information for policymakers seeking to address prescription drug affordability and access.”

Key points in the data include:

  • There are 23,254 independent retail pharmacies currently operating in the United States.
  • In the beginning half of this last decade (2012-2016) the number of independent pharmacies steadily rose by 7.5% before leveling off in the latter half of the decade.
  • Between 2017-2022, the number of independent pharmacies experienced small year-over-year changes. During that time the total number of independent pharmacies increased by 1.2%.


PCMA is the national association representing America’s pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).  PBMs administer prescription drug plans for more than 266 million Americans who have health insurance from a variety of sponsors including:  commercial health plans, self-insured employer plans, union plans, Medicare Part D plans, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), state government employee plans, Medicaid plans, and others.