2024 is a bad year for pharmacies like Walgreens, CVs, Rite Aid, and independents.

It appears the days of pharmacies being "catty-corner" to each other on the same Texas street are coming to a close.

Those areas will adjust to having just one pharmacy in the neighborhood, however, rural and urban Texans will suffer from a lack of easy access, delivery service, and even a lack of a confidential and knowledgeable medical professional that's much easier to see regularly than a doctor.

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First, why are these pharmacies closing?

Multiple factors contribute to the closings, including theft and theft prevention measures that annoy consumers and send them to other stores. Changes in consumer spending habits, like buying a thermometer online instead of in-store, are also fueling the fire.

However, the primary problem appears to be the pharmacies make money on actual prescriptions. According to Pharmacy Times, a publication intended for pharmacy professionals, "the current pharmacy business model doesn’t work in the 21st century."

To paraphrase as best as I can, the current reimbursement/ payment models for pharmacies are not working, even though keeping a pharmacy open should be relatively easy given the low overhead.

How will this hurt rural and urban Texans?

This is simple to answer. Rural areas and areas that are primarily black/Latino already had fewer pharmacies per capita. Now imagine you don't have a vehicle or medically cannot operate one. You may have to travel much further to retrieve your life-saving medications.

Imagine also the times you've spoken to a pharmacist to get clarification on your medicine, or to ask if it will interact will something you are already taking. I can recall the pharmacist who saw I was about to purchase Mucinex with my asthma inhaler and prevented me from damaging my health.

Getting prescriptions mailed to you, while convenient, does not provide this service, nor can it provide services like flu and pneumonia vaccinations which save lives yearly.

Some of these closure are a correction from the market saturation we saw pre-pandemic and during those years. Here's hoping these businesses find a way to get paid that keeps the doors open in underserved Texas communities.

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