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A call for a moratorium on new pharmacy schools

16 June 2011

In the past few months I have overheard something that in my 55 years as a practicing pharmacist has never been discussed: There are too many pharmacists in the marketplace and too many schools of pharmacy cranking out pharmacists in the United States.

Graduates outpace population
From 2000 to 2010, the U.S. population rose by 9.7%, from about 281 million to 309 million. During the same period, the number of pharmacy schools (including preaccredited schools) increased by 50% to 120, according to Robert L. Day, PharmD, associate dean, University of California School of Pharmacy, San Francisco.

If you look at the U.S. census figures for 2010 and extrapolate to 2013, there will be 317 million, a 12.6% increase in population in the United States since 2000. The number of pharmacy graduates is expected to come close to doubling, climbing from 7,300 in 2010 to an annual graduate potential in 2013 of 13,247.

New, reimbursible roles needed
There are many reasons that additional pharmacists are needed in America, including the graying of baby boomers and the proposed increase of prescriptions from 5 billion to 10 billion, once the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides access to health insurance to the 40 million Americans who are now uninsured.

However, without reimbursement and a new role for pharmacists in the ACA to help manage diabetes, asthma, cholesterol, stroke, etc., it is very unlikely that the pharmacy profession will need this increase of schools and pharmacists.

Some pharmacy students cannot find internship positions to complete their pharmacy studies to obtain licenses. Many of these pharmacy students have 8 years of college and have student loans amounting to more than $300,000, which must be repaid.

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