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Communities of Color, Western States Struggle with Pharmacy Closures

Western States Struggle with Pharmacy Closures

United States: An industry that had waves of retail expansion before to the COVID-19 pandemic is now confronted with challenges like as declining prescription reimbursement rates, ongoing theft, and shifting consumer behavior.

However, as pharmacies reduce their physical presence, communities that have come to rely on them as reliable providers of care and guidance—both of which can be difficult to come by in many urban and rural areas—may be left behind, according to experts.

Impact on Trust and Access

Health care expert Omolola Adepoju of the University of Houston stated, “That trust, you just can’t quantify it.” “And I don’t think we talk about it enough when we talk about closing pharmacies.”

Who gets access to pharmacies follows a pattern, with differences emerging between urban and rural areas.

An Associated Press analysis of licensing data from 44 states, data from the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs, and the American Community Survey revealed that residents of predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods have fewer pharmacies per capita than residents of mostly white neighborhoods. It is in line with earlier studies that show the locations of urban “pharmacy deserts” that are more likely to be clustered.

Role of Pharmacies in Healthcare

Additionally, the AP examined data from 49 states and discovered that Alaska, Oregon, and New Mexico have the fewest retail pharmacies per person. While independent pharmacies typically focus more in urban areas or states with larger populations, chains held almost two thirds of the retail pharmacies in those states.

Pharmacy as a care of location:

Whether by need or design, drugstores have grown in importance as suppliers of healthcare in recent years, particularly for those patients who work several jobs and have difficulty getting to a doctor. In order to treat patients, several pharmacies—including the two biggest chains—offer clinics and more than a dozen vaccinations. Additionally, they have pushed pharmacists to provide patients additional advice on how to manage illnesses like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Sometimes, according to Prakash Patel of Bert’s Pharmacy in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the pharmacy serves as a sick customer’s “first stop.”

“Getting to a doctor’s office is difficult. You must schedule a time. The pharmacist and store owner stated that their hours are restricted. Thus, wherever a youngster or adult becomes ill, where will they go first? To the drugstore.

According to Megan Undeberg, a community pharmacy specialist at Washington State University, pharmacies in rural locations frequently fulfil several functions for the local community, with pharmacists seeing regular clients more frequently than physicians. This implies that they might be the first to identify symptoms of conditions like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s and advise the patient to get treatment.

Sometimes, according to Prakash Patel of Bert’s Pharmacy in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the pharmacy serves as a sick customer’s “first stop.”

“Getting to a doctor’s office is difficult. You must schedule a time. The pharmacist and store owner stated that their hours are restricted. Thus, wherever a youngster or adult becomes ill, where will they go first? To the drugstore. Thus, wherever a youngster andor or

According to Megan Undeberg, a community pharmacy specialist at Washington State University, pharmacies in rural locations frequently fulfill several functions for the local community, with pharmacists seeing regular clients more frequently than physicians. This implies that they might be the first to identify symptoms of conditions like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s and advise the patient to get treatment.

She remarked, “You’re the counselor for quitting smoking; you’re the counselor for preventing suicide.” “Almost everything about everyone is known to you, but it’s private.”

A few weeks prior to the early March closure of the Herscher, Illinois, CVS, farmer Kip Harms obtained a muscle relaxant for a back ailment. He questioned the staff if Tylenol would work for him.

Though they won’t be the same, Harms said he will have other options in the rural area about 80 miles south of Chicago.

“You can stand here and have a conversation,” the 56-year-old Cullom, local resident Harms stated. “You feel like you’re bothering the person who’s helping you when you go to the big, giant one where there are forty people in line.”

Pace of Drugstores Closing:

Over 600 of CVS’s 900 scheduled store closures have already occurred since the company announced its plans to close them in 2021. Numerous store closures are anticipated as Rite Aid proceeds with its bankruptcy reorganization.

Lucas Berenbrok, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh, estimates that more than 7,000 pharmacies have closed nationwide since 2019. He believes that number to be conservative. 54% of the pharmacies were independent pharmacies, according to an AP examination of Berenbrok’s data.

Analyst Keonhee Kim of Morningstar Research said, “I think what (drugstores) have realized in the past couple of years is that they are a little thinly spread out.”

Put the closures down to issues like declining revenue and growing costs. For many years, drugstores’ reimbursement for filling the majority of prescriptions has decreased while expenses for things like utilities and staff salaries have increased.

Walgreens has stated that one of the numerous reasons it closes locations is theft, which is another issue. Drugstores frequently stock expensive, little things that are simple to pilfer and resale, such as infant formula, beauty supplies, and batteries, according to Burt Flickinger III, managing director of Strategic Resource Group, a retail consulting firm.

As long as three years may pass before a new pharmacy site breaks even and develops a clientele, according to industry watcher Jeff Jonas, a portfolio manager at Gabelli Funds. That’s challenging when clients are less reliant on drugstores now than in decades in the past.

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