Rite Aid’s bankruptcy plan raises concerns about new “pharmacy deserts.”
Rite Aid plans to close more stores as part of its plan Bankruptcy process Experts say this could hurt access to medication and care, especially in some majority Black and Latino neighborhoods and in rural areas.
The drugstore chain said late Sunday that the voluntary Chapter 11 process will allow it to accelerate its plan to close underperforming stores. The company operates more than 2,000 stores, most of them on the East and West coasts.
She doesn’t know yet which ones will close, but the Wall Street Journal said I mentioned last month The company proposed closing 400 to 500 of them.
When pharmacy chains close stores, they often target locations in low-income, black and Latino neighborhoods where people are covered by government-funded insurance programs like Medicaid.
“They tend to close in these neighborhoods regardless of whether there is another pharmacy nearby or not,” Katto said.
Rite Aid also has a lot of stores in small rural markets that don’t get as much business as locations in larger cities, noted Jeff Jonas, a portfolio manager at Gabelli Funds who tracks pharmacies. The company is expected to close several hundred stores over the next two years.
Closures can create so-called “pharmacy deserts,” or neighborhoods without easy access to a pharmacy. These could be poor neighborhoods where residents are less likely to own cars and there is a pharmacy more than half a mile away. He also points to rural areas where pharmacies may be miles away.
“This will exacerbate the problem of unavailability of pharmacies and uneven access to pharmacies,” Qattu said.
She noted that patients who cannot access pharmacies are less likely to continue with their regular prescriptions, and this can affect their health.
Aside from dispensing prescriptions, many of these stores are also becoming growing sources of annual vaccinations and health care In the last years.
The Philadelphia-based company said in a Statement of facts Explaining her plan, she “will do everything in her power to ensure that our customers have access to health services, whether at Rite Aid or another nearby pharmacy.”
The company began a pilot program aimed at addressing the rural pharmacy problem by opening two convenience stores in rural Virginia. A Rite Aid representative declined to comment on whether this program will continue.
Pharmacies want to help with access to pharmacies, but the economy still needs to work with these businesses, Jonas said.
“Medicaid certainly pays the least and it’s not very attractive to them,” he said.
Associated Press video journalist Ted Shaffrey contributed to this report.
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