Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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How to localize pharmaceutical stories

January 31, 2017

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The United States pharmaceutical industry makes up more than 40 percent of global revenue, and more Americans are taking prescription drugs than ever. ("Diet Pills" image via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain)

The United States pharmaceutical industry is a global leader, responsible for over 40 percent of the industry’s worldwide revenue. And more Americans than ever are taking prescription drugs.  

A 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that 59 percent of people 20 years and older regularly took a prescription medication, up from 51 percent in 2000.  

Prescription medication is undoubtedly on the rise in America. In order to transform what appears to be a health topic to fit the business beat, here are some resources to show how this industry can be affecting your community.

About 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day

An aging community means different demands for prescription medication. According to the Hamacher Resource Group, women are responsible for more than 90 percent of over-the-counter pharmaceutical sales, and women in the “baby boomer” generation are the largest group of independent pharmacy shoppers. An aging community in your area could mean a rise in sales for your local pharmacies.

Your community pharmacy could close its doors

Similarly to other brick-and-mortar locations, retail pharmacies are being shut out by online shopping. The popularity of e-prescriptions and digital prescription refills has increased significantly over the years, partly due to government programs that incentivize the use of electronic health records, including e-prescriptions. A data brief compiled by The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology reported that some states have seen a 96 percent increase in e-prescriptions since 2008.

Drug prices are still on the rise

Last year shone a spotlight on the rising prices of prescription medication, and pharmaceutical consultants predict the conversation will continue throughout  2017. The election of President Donald Trump in November 2016 may have a big impact on the pharmaceutical industry. Trump calls for stiffer competition among pharmaceutical companies, including a possible increase in prescription drugs imported from overseas, in order to drive costs down.  Cities with large pharmaceutical companies or research universities could see aftereffects.

Reporter’s Takeaway

  • Find out what percent of your community is rising to the age eligible for Medicaid. For communities where the population is aging, find out how their prescription needs affect local pharmacies. Talk to pharmacists and doctors to see if the change in population is having an impact on the pharmaceutical industry in your area.
  • Talk to both local and commercially-owned pharmacies to see if the rise of e-prescriptions has impacted their business.  See if many customers fill their prescriptions online and ask if this has changed their day-to-day work.
  • Talk to customers and pharmacists to see how the rise in cost of prescription medication is affecting them.  Ask what both pharmacies and consumers anticipate under the new  administration.

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