Study Shows Pharmacist Shortage

WASHINGTON--The Department of Health and Human Services reported Tuesday that the nation's number of pharmacists is dropping rapidly, even though Americans are taking more prescription drugs.

The number of unfilled drug store pharmacist positions rose from 2,700 to 7,000 during the last two years. Yet retail prescriptions dispensed nationwide have risen 44% since 1992.

This change could be dangerous for those taking medication because the lack of pharmacists employed leaves those currently with less time to advise patients and an increased potential for fatigue-related errors.

Applications at pharmaceutical colleges are also dropping. However, some congressmen are pushing for additional financial aid to entice more students to enter the field. Rep. James McGovern said pharmaceutical colleges should offer year-round courses to allow students to get their degree in three years instead of the standard six. The Massachusetts College of pharmacy has such a program.

In 1999, 2.8 billion prescriptions were taken by Americans.

Information from