Last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the statistical arm of the Department of Labor, estimated that pharmacist employment was expected to grow by 22 percent between 2006 and 2016. This year, the forecast is somewhat lower, but still hopeful.

The BLS reports that pharmacist employment is expected to grow by 17 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is still faster than the average for all occupations. The bureau cites growing demand in mail-order pharmacies, as well as continued growth in hospitals, drugstores, grocery stores, and mass retailers. Pharmacists in these settings will increasingly offer patient care services such as the administration of vaccines.

Further, job prospects are expected to be excellent during this period. Employers in many parts of the country report difficulty in attracting and retaining adequate numbers of pharmacists. And while retail stores employ the most, consulting appears to be the top paying job, followed by employment by mental health and substance abuse facilities and insurance carriers.

Part-time employment is also a concern. As the percentage of pharmacists working part time grows, more people will be needed to fill the same number of prescriptions, assuming no productivity gains.

Faster-than-average employment growth and the need to replace workers who retire or leave the occupation for other reasons will affect the number of openings.

Wage by percentile, 2009 (estimated)

Top paying industries for pharmacists
Industry Number of jobs Mean hourly wage Mean annual wage
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 350 $56.11 $116,710
Residential mental retardation, mental health, and substance abuse facilities 50 $55.08 $114,580
Insurance carriers 1,010 $53.55 $111,390
Management of companies and services 1,770 $53.30 $110,860
Employment services 2,850 $53.11 $110,480

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2009

Managed Care’s Top Ten Articles of 2016

There’s a lot more going on in health care than mergers (Aetna-Humana, Anthem-Cigna) creating huge players. Hundreds of insurers operate in 50 different states. Self-insured employers, ACA public exchanges, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid managed care plans crowd an increasingly complex market.

Major health care players are determined to make health information exchanges (HIEs) work. The push toward value-based payment alone almost guarantees that HIEs will be tweaked, poked, prodded, and overhauled until they deliver on their promise. The goal: straight talk from and among tech systems.

They bring a different mindset. They’re willing to work in teams and focus on the sort of evidence-based medicine that can guide health care’s transformation into a system based on value. One question: How well will this new generation of data-driven MDs deal with patients?

The surge of new MS treatments have been for the relapsing-remitting form of the disease. There’s hope for sufferers of a different form of MS. By homing in on CD20-positive B cells, ocrelizumab is able to knock them out and other aberrant B cells circulating in the bloodstream.

A flood of tests have insurers ramping up prior authorization and utilization review. Information overload is a problem. As doctors struggle to keep up, health plans need to get ahead of the development of the technology in order to successfully manage genetic testing appropriately.

Having the data is one thing. Knowing how to use it is another. Applying its computational power to the data, a company called RowdMap puts providers into high-, medium-, and low-value buckets compared with peers in their markets, using specific benchmarks to show why outliers differ from the norm.
Competition among manufacturers, industry consolidation, and capitalization on me-too drugs are cranking up generic and branded drug prices. This increase has compelled PBMs, health plan sponsors, and retail pharmacies to find novel ways to turn a profit, often at the expense of the consumer.
The development of recombinant DNA and other technologies has added a new dimension to care. These medications have revolutionized the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and many of the other 80 or so autoimmune diseases. But they can be budget busters and have a tricky side effect profile.

Shelley Slade
Vogel, Slade & Goldstein

Hub programs have emerged as a profitable new line of business in the sales and distribution side of the pharmaceutical industry that has got more than its fair share of wheeling and dealing. But they spell trouble if they spark collusion, threaten patients, or waste federal dollars.

More companies are self-insuring—and it’s not just large employers that are striking out on their own. The percentage of employers who fully self-insure increased by 44% in 1999 to 63% in 2015. Self-insurance may give employers more control over benefit packages, and stop-loss protects them against uncapped liability.