Alexandria, Va., The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) announced that, despite the enormous challenges facing independent pharmacists in the United States, the number of pharmacist-owned, non-publicly traded pharmacies grew last year, according to preliminary data from the 2006 NCPA-Pfizer Digest. The initial findings also show a higher volume of prescriptions dispensed, an increase in average pharmacy sales and an increase in total prescription sales. In 2005, there were a total of 24,500 independent pharmacies, up from 24,345 in 2004. The average number of prescriptions dispensed annually per pharmacy was 63,500 (204 per day), up from 59,432 annually (190 per day) in 2004. The average annual independent pharmacy sales were $3.98 million, up from $3.58 million in 2004. The percentage of independent pharmacies offering niche patient services, such as durable medical equipment, also increased in 2005.