Research Outline

Independently-owned Pharmacies in Colorado


To quantify the number of independently-owned pharmacies in Colorado. Also, understand Colorado's pharmaceutical structure, pharmacy locations (primarily in rural areas), their ownership structure, and business volume.

Early Findings

In this research strategy, the aim was to build an understanding of independently-owned pharmacies in Colorado, by getting to know about the Pharmaceutical structure, relevant statistics which includes the number of pharmacies, market trends, growth rate, and business volume. Though business volume could not be separately obtained for Colorado state, which needs further research. The preliminary research covered some of the names of independent pharmacies, their locations (city, address, and zip codes), phone number, and website which are shown in the excel spreadsheet-in-progress. In the detailed research, the spreadsheet task needs to be completed as per the proposed research methodology.

Introduction to Colorado Pharmaceutical Structure

The Colorado Pharmaceutical structure is controlled by two major pharmaceutical associations:

(i) Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA)

  • Since the 1960's the pharmaceutical structure in Colorado is largely ruled by Pharmacy benefit Managers (PBM's) - which are middlemen between pharmacies, drug manufacturers, and insurers. PBM's gained more influence after the 2000's when the Congress negotiated with PBM's regarding drug pricing and Medicare enrolment. PBM's are represented by a larger entity known as the 'Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA).'
  • PBM's are contracted by government entities, health plans, and employers to regulate drug-related matters which include: drug costs, prescription drug benefits, coverage plans, negotiating with drug manufacturers, and processing prescription drug claims.
  • PCMA represents PBM's and is responsible for looking after consumer benefits such as reducing prescription drug costs and improving safety and convenience for consumers, employers, unions, and government programs.
  • According to the Colorado Health Institute, like most states, the Colorado state does not have efficient regulatory oversight or reporting requirements for PBMs. As a result, only 3 PBM's (CVS Caremark, OptumRx, and Express Scripts) control up to 85% of the U.S. market.

(ii) National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA)

  • The National Community Pharmacists Association represents the (a) community, or (b) independent pharmacists.
  • According to NCPA's view, for the past 25 years, the PBMs have focused more on enriching themselves, than bringing the drug costs down.
  • According to NCPA's Senior Vice President, Mr. Kurt Proctor, 'The number of independent pharmacies are getting squeezed out of business, while the community pharmacies are holding pretty steady.'


  • According to NCP's estimates, in 2020, the number of independent community pharmacies in the U.S. are 21,909.
  • In 2019, the number of community pharmacies in the USA was 23,061, as opposed to chain pharmacies which were 39,084.
  • In the U.S, in 2018, independent community pharmacy covered a $75.8 billion market, with 93% of the sales from prescription drugs.
  • According to Quest Analytics of National Council for Prescription Drug Programs, in Colorado, the number of independent pharmacies increased from 136 (in 2010) to 155 (in 2020).
  • The growth rate of independent pharmacies in the state of Colorado was 16% between 2010-2019, from 136 pharmacies (2010) to 158 pharmacies (in 2019).
  • According to the Colorado Sun Article, the three largest PBM's including CVS Health, Express Scripts, and OptumRx caters to around 180 million Americans, which covers about 80% of the U.S market share.
  • Regarding the pharmacist's workforce in Colorado, the largest chunk worked in chains or mass pharmaceutical merchandisers (39%), followed by working in hospitals or inpatient health care facilities (22%). Whereas in rural areas of Colorado, 37% worked for chain stores, 21% worked for in-hospital setting, while, more than one-quarter (27%) worked for independent community pharmacies.
  • According to NCPA digest of 2019, the following statistics are relevant to U.S. Independent Pharmacies in the year 2018:
i. Average Number of Pharmacies in Which Each Independent Owner Has Ownership = 2
ii. Average Number of "New Prescriptions" Dispensed Per Pharmacy Location = 27,881 (47.4%)
iii. Average Number of "Renewed Prescriptions" Dispensed Per Pharmacy Location = 30,942 (52.6%)
iv. "Average Prescription Charge" Dispensed Per Pharmacy Location = $55.13
v. Percentage of Total Prescriptions Covered By Government Programs (Medicaid or Medicare Part D) = 54%
vi. Percentage of Total Prescriptions Covered By Other Third-Party Programs = 37%

List of Independent Pharmacies

  • List of 155 Independent Pharmacies in the Colorado state can be found on this weblink. An excel spreadsheet has been created to dig up information on each pharmacy's name, address, whether they lie in rural or urban area based on zip code, their website, contact details, and business volume. This spreadsheet needs to be completed in the detailed research section following the proposed methodology.