The Economics of Retail, Mail, and Specialty Pharmacies

Americans fill more than 5 billion prescriptions at more than 64,000 retail, mail, and specialty pharmacies. Total prescription revenues are approaching $400 billion. Despite the industry’s size, few people understand the economic details that underlie the drugstore industry’s profitability from prescription pharmaceuticals.

This module covers the fundamental aspects of pharmacy economics, including: reimbursement, a pharmacy’s prescription profits, business profitability, and much more.

After completing this course, learners will be able to:

  • Describe a pharmacy’s sources of prescription revenue
  • Explain how third-party payers affect a pharmacy’s economics
  • Summarize the four primary methods of estimating a pharmacy’s ingredient costs
  • Compare list-price reimbursement methods to acquisition-cost reimbursement methods
  • Identify typical per-prescription profit margins
  • Distinguish between the profitability levels of generic vs. brand-name prescriptions
  • Distinguish between the profitability levels of traditional vs. specialty prescriptions
  • Explain why and how pharmacy profitability from a generic drug varies over its lifecycle

View a sample of our modules. Or, email Paula Fein (, VP of Business Development, to learn more.