Amidst the tension, some local pharmacists are now helping others out of their predicament.
SEATTLE – Washington pharmacies are struggling: Northwest Medical Supply and Prescription recently closed and so did Darrington Pharmacy in July.
Meanwhile, the city of Seattle is preparing to lose its last 24-hour pharmacy on September 10, when Bartell Drugs closes in the Uptown area.
It’s an alarming trend, but where does it take people who want to talk to pharmacists face-to-face? Normally, some would turn to independent, locally run pharmacies, but these pharmacies are also disappearing in Washington– and that’s a hard pill to swallow for customers who depend on them. .
“It’s one of those places where if I need something, I can stop by,” said a man passing by his local pharmacy in Madison Park on Tuesday. “I think you have some confidence. It’s not someone you haven’t met before.”
According to Dr. Jenny Arnold, CEO of the Washington State Pharmacists Association, the tendency to contract with unregulated middlemen is what causes pharmacies to go out of business.
“When Bartell’s wasn’t even big enough to compete and when Rite Aid was in financial trouble because of these pharmaceutical benefit management contracts,” she said. “They’re negotiating contracts that make patients go to certain pharmacies and not others.”
She is urging patients to contact federal and state representatives to ask for legislation on the books governing pharmaceutical benefit managers.
“Mail-order pharmacies don’t offer vaccines, they don’t do critical trials,” Arnold said. We need pharmacies to keep the community safe.”
Meanwhile, amid the stress, some local pharmacists are now saving others from their dire conditions.
When Walgreens bought Medly Pharmacy out of bankruptcy in February, it closed dozens of pharmacies around the country.
“It worked, getting Pharmaca/Medly out of business,” says Laura Sorensen, who has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for about 12 years. “Pretty brutal.”
That includes four pharmacies in Seattle; one of them is in Madison Park.
“Everybody is given two days off in advance,” said Matt Binder, a local pharmacy owner.
According to Sorensen, it impacted the community to a large extent because it lost its sole pharmacy. The closest place, she said, is on Capitol Hill.
“This is a pharmacy desert with no pharmacy here,” says Binder.
Longtime loyal customers react strongly.
“What’s your reaction?” KING 5 asked a man.
“Some sort of panic,” he said.
Binder, who also owns Ostrom Medicines and Gifts in Kenmore and Bob Johnson Pharmacy in Seattle, came to the rescue. When the Madison Park store called, he answered.
He and his business partner reopened the store as an independent pharmacy in May as the Madison Park Pharmacy and Health Care Center.
He said it has re-hired 10 employees and welcomed back desperate customers.
“When you have one like this, you want to keep it,” the man said.
How can communities help save pharmacies? Arnold is hoping patients will contact Washington State Pharmaceutical Association to participate in the movement.
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