The small town independent pharmacy is becoming a thing of the past. Dr. Keith Mueller is with the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health and says a recent study shows Medicare D prescription drug coverage has something to do with it.
A new study shows that there was a rapid decline in pharmacy closings from May 2006 through April of 2008 with 998 closing doors. Twenty-two of those closings were in Dr. Mueller says around the same time, two major polices were implemented related to payment for prescription medications: Medicare prescription drug discount cards and the drug benefit shortly after. He says many small pharmacies were already in trouble because of existing low payments by insurance companies.
Dr. Mueller says these small towns are dependent on their pharmacy. He says many times, hospitals and nursing homes do not have pharmacy staff 24/7 and they were using the hometown pharmacy to fill that gap. Not only does it cause a problem for them, it leaves others out in the cold. Mail order is an option but Dr. Mueller suggests traveling, if possible, to a nearby pharmacy. He gives the example that if a prescription is written but the pharmacist knows that the patient is taking an over the counter medication as well, the two may have negative effects if mixed.
Mail order can not provide that same personal service. He also says many people are shut-in’s and these local pharmacies did home deliveries. Now these people must rely on others to get their medication.