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PTCB Retail Pharmacy Calculations!

Jun 25th, 2020
retail pharmacy calculations

Retail Pharmacy Calculations

Not all pharmacy calculations on the PTCB exam are related to medicines. Students should also prepare to answer questions related to retail pharmacy.

After all, at their core retail pharmacies are businesses – and, like all businesses, staff are required to have a fundamental knowledge of numbers, terms, and key phrases used in transactions.

If you have already taken PTCB practice exam questions, you may have come across terms such as:

  • mark-up
  • co-pay
  • dispensing fee
  • AWP
  • gross/net profit

If you are not yet familiar with these terms, you should be.

Retail pharmacy calculations are almost guaranteed to appear on the PTCB test. That said, among the wide range of pharmacy technician calculations you must prepare for, retail pharmacy math is among the simplest to learn.

Below, we review two examples of retail pharmacy math and we study and review the key definitions that you need to know.

PTCB Exam Question 1

You dispense 30 tablets of escitalopram to the patient. The cost to the pharmacy is $42.00 with a 12% mark-up and a dispensing fee of $6.00. 

How much should the patient be charged?

First, we need to understand the terms mark-up and dispensing fee.

  • Mark-up – the % increase in cost of a product that covers costs and issues a profit on sale of the item.
  • Dispensing fee – a fixed fee applied to each completed prescription once dispensed to the patient.

In other words, if I buy a product for $10.00 and it has a 50% mark-up, I will sell the product for $15.00 and, if I manage to sell the product, I have earned $5.00 in profit.

In this case, it cost the pharmacy $42.00 for 30 tablets of escitalopram. A 12% mark-up means that:

  • (12 / 100) x $42.00 = $5.04
  • Dispensing fee to the patient = $6.00
  • Total fees = $11.04

Therefore, the patient should be charged:

  • $42.00 + $11.04 = $53.04

PTCB Pharmacy Question 2

Belmont pharmacy pays $500.00 for 200 tablets of amlodipine. The patient has been prescribed 20 tablets.

With an 8% mark-up and a dispensing fee of $12.50, how much will the patient be charged?

In this case, we are told how much a batch of drug costs.

The pharmacy has paid $500.00 for 200 tablets, meaning that it cost $250.00 for 100 tablets, and 5x less – $50.00 – for 20 tablets. This is the number of tablets we are required to dispense to the patient.

The dispensing fee is fixed – at $12.50.

Now, we need to establish the degree of mark-up. We are told that the mark-up is 8% on the prescription:

  • (8 / 100) x $50.00 = $4.00 mark-up

Therefore, the patient will be charged:

  • Total – $50.00 + $12.50 + $4.00 = $66.50.

Rememberit is important that you interpret the question correctly. You do not apply the mark-up percentage to the batch product of $500.00. The mark-up is specific to the total medicine being dispensed to the patient.


Once you understand the definitions and terminology used in retail pharmacy, the questions become reasonably straightforward – at least compared to other PTCB pharmacy questions, such as alligation problems.

We have covered the basics here – but it’s also important that pharmacy technicians know how to work with co-pay, AWP, and gross/net profit margins. If you are already a registered member of PTCB Test Prep, we have covered this material in Module 10, on Calculations for Technicians. If you are not yet a member, register now.

In the meantime, check back to PTCB Test Prep soon for more content to help you master the knowledge you need to know for the 2020 exam. Also, whilst you’re at it, don’t forget to check out our free PTCB practice exam questions.

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PTCB Test Prep Author


Elaine Walker

Elaine joined PTCB Test Prep in 2017, currently serving as the lead product development manager overseeing both course development and quality improvement. Mrs. Walker is a graduate of California State University and has worked as a pharmacy technician for over twenty years – with particular interests in pediatric pharmacy, extemporaneous compounding, and hospital pharmacy. Over the past 8-years, she has helped prepare thousands of students for the PTCB examination.