The upcoming pharmacy desert

Pharmacies are disappearing across the country as retail chains cull hundreds of locations, and the closures are disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations, The Washington Post reported Oct. 22.

Studies have shown that independent pharmacy closures mainly happen in low-income neighborhoods, and with Rite Aid, Walgreens and CVS shuttering some operations, this health inequity might be exacerbated. 

Walgreens is closing more than 300 of its stores, according to statements made in 2019 and June 2023. As of August, the chain has 8,700 pharmacies, according to its website. In 2021, CVS announced its plan to close 900 of its nearly 2,000 stores by the end of 2024. 

Most recently, Rite Aid declared bankruptcy and has slated 154 of its 2,000-plus pharmacies for closure. 

Communities that are facing more pharmacy closure signs are predominantly Black, Latino and low-income, according to the Post

"This has been going on historically, and that pretty much just exacerbates preexisting health disparities," Lorece Edwards, DrPH, a professor at Baltimore-based Morgan State University who focuses on health disparities, told the Post. "It interrupts care and interrupts all the access to medical advice, access to vaccines, access to food, access to staples."

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