Pharmacy Deserts — The Struggle is Real?

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Drugstore closures are leaving millions without easy access to a

The nation’s largest drugstore chains — Rite Aid (which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week), CVS and Walgreens plan to collectively close more than 1,500 stores.

Public health experts have already seen the fallout, noting that the first neighborhoods to lose their pharmacies are often predominantly Black, Latinx and low-income.

That sentence is written in a way that makes the world sound worse to the casual reader than it probably is.

How have public health experts “already seen the fallout” of something that hasn’t happened yet?

Predominantly Black, Latinx and low-income neighborhoods are “often” the first to lose pharmacies. Not always, but often. Ok, that makes sense. But it’s phrased in a way that sounds like the pharmacies are being closed because of the demographics.

If pharmacies didn’t want to be in predominantly Black, Latinx and low-income neighborhoods, it would be a lot cheaper to just not put pharmacies there in the first place, instead of building them, staffing them, operating them and then closing them down.

“According to our estimates, about one in four neighborhoods are pharmacy deserts across the country,” said Dima Qato, an associate professor at the University of Southern California who studies pharmacy access and health equity.

Again, the word “desert” makes life sound worse than it really is. In urban centers, a neighborhood is considered a pharmacy desert if residents are more than half a mile from the nearest drugstore.

Half a mile doesn’t sound burdensome to me. It’s not like living in rural Alaska. The nearest places for me to pick up prescriptions or buy groceries are about half a mile from where I live. I could walk to them in 10 minutes.

Here’s another solution: The large pharmacy chains will deliver prescriptions to you or send them by mail. Retail giants like Amazon and Walmart have pharmacy and medical treatment offerings, and will also provide delivery.

Are those reasonable solutions? I say yes. The story creates a problem that doesn’t really exist and focuses it on race and “vulnerable populations.” There are maybe two words in a fairly long story about a very important factor and that is crime.

Businesses closing in high-crime cities is not news anymore. Stop looting the Walgreens. Businesses can’t operate profitably if they’re being robbed 10 times a day and they will close.

You might say that people need to somehow provide for their basic needs, although in California, where I live, I notice a lot of the smash-and-grabs happen, not in drugstores, but in jewelry and upscale clothing stores.

Maybe some people’s basic needs include Rolex watches and Gucci belts. The struggle is the same.

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