According to a new study, an individual pharmacy faces a price tag of between $84,000 and $110,000 to implement RFID systems which meet proposed federal safety mandates. This represents an average of 0.88% of annual sales for pharmacies; a figure which the industry group behind the report says is too much.
The study, prepared by Accenture and commissioned by the Coalition for Community Pharmacy Action (CCPA), looked at the cost of implementing hardware, software and processes to support pharmaceutical identification by both RFID and two-dimensional bar code technologies, to create track-and-trace and e-pedigree systems.
It also addresses proposed e-pedigree and track-and-trace requirements outlined in the “H.R. 5839 Safeguarding America’s Pharmaceuticals Act of 2008” legislation introduced this spring, which representatives of the pharmacy industry refer to as an “unfunded mandate that would create a tremendous financial strain on community pharmacies.”
The CCPA is a joint effort between groups representing chain pharmacies and independent operators around the country and united against the unfunded federal mandate for RFID implementation. According to the CCPA, the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain is very safe, most counterfeit and adulterated drugs reach consumers through Internet sales rather than retail stores, and that technology-driven e-pedigree and track-and-trace requirements will place a tremendous cost burden on retail pharmacies.
While the report provides evidence that supports these positions, some experts dismiss it as being designed to do so. The report expressly did not examine how RFID or bar code systems could save labor and money for pharmacies, and as one pro-implementation expert pointed out, the costs represent a sharp increase from numbers offered by Accenture in November of last year.