As more drugstore chains leave rural areas, local pharmacists step in

Many large drugstore chains and big-box stores with pharmacies are closing locations in small rural communities, and local pharmacists are stepping in to fill the void, Kaiser Health News reported Dec. 20.

The growth of online sales and mail delivery for prescriptions and other consumer products are behind many large pharmacy chains' decisions to close stores in rural areas. The number of pharmacists working at big-box stores peaked at more than 31,800 in 2012 but fell to fewer than 18,000 by 2019, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"The big-box stores came into smaller and smaller communities, and they, in essence, outcompeted all the other pharmacies in the area," David Zgarrick, PhD, a pharmacy professor at Northeastern University in Boston, told Kaiser Health News. "Now they're completely gone and with them the pharmacy services and everything else they provided. They left a vacuum in a lot of these places."

The closures are opening the door for regional drugstore chains and independent pharmacies to open their own locations. In some instances, local pharmacists who were let go when a chain store closed are opening their own drugstores in the same community. In other situations, pharmacy owners from neighboring towns are opening new locations in communities that lost their only pharmacy.

View the full article here.

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