The Independent Pharmacy Marketplace Is Stable

Over the last ten years, the number of independent retail pharmacies nationwide increased by 1,638 stores or 7.5%.

New 2023 data from the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) finds a continuing pattern of stability in the independent marketplace. As of 2023, the number of independent pharmacies increased by 0.4% (99 stores) from the previous year.

Over the last five years, the marketplace for independent pharmacies has experienced small fluctuations from year-to-year, sometimes gaining stores, sometimes losing stores. Independent pharmacies consist of three or fewer pharmacies under common ownership. These recent fluctuations in the overall number of stores have not dramatically shifted the independent pharmacy market. Today, the independent pharmacy market is stable. Even the independent pharmacy lobby (NCPA) agrees. The NCPA published in their annual 2022 Digest Report that the number of independent pharmacies increased in the last year, stating that the “independent pharmacy category was essentially flat,” increasing by 0.4%.”

“The demise of independent community pharmacy has been greatly exaggerated.”




0.46%: Increase in independent pharmacies between 2018-2023.


23,353: The number of independent pharmacies in 2023.

“There is still little evidence that independent pharmacies are vanishing.”

– Adam J. Fein, Drug Channels Institute

The Number of Retail Pharmacies in 2023

The number of retail pharmacies varies across states and changes almost every year. The map below shows a snapshot of the number of each state's independent, chain, and total pharmacies in 2023.

Annual Number of Independent and Chain Retail Pharmacies

Over the last ten years (2013-2023), the total number of chain pharmacies decreased by 7% and by 6.8% over the last five years (2018-2023). In comparison, the total number of independent pharmacies increased by 7.5% over the last ten years and 0.46% in the previous five years. Nationally, the total number of pharmacies (chain plus independent) declined between 2013 to 2023. These declining numbers are solely due to the decline in chain stores in most years studied.

Other Research on Independent Pharmacies

Independent Pharmacies in the U.S. are More on the Rise than on the Decline (Hatemi and Zorn)

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Five Things to Know About the State of Independent Pharmacy Economics (Drug Channels)

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Data We Don’t Know if We Can Believe in? NCPA’s Data Differs Greatly from the Number of Pharmacies Reported by NCPDP (Hatemi)

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There are More Independent Pharmacies, Just Look at Real, Accurate Data

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The Resurgence of Independent Pharmacy (Marwood Group)

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Nationwide, More Independent Pharmacies Opened in 2020

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