Philadelphia pharmacists raise alarm about industry struggles as Rite Aid closes more stores

Beccah Hendrickson Image
Wednesday, April 10, 2024
Philadelphia pharmacists raise alarm about industry struggles
Philadelphia pharmacists raise alarm about industry struggles as Rite Aid closes more stores

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia pharmacists are raising an alarm about a growing trend in the industry amid Rite Aid's announcement that it is closing several more stores in the Philadelphia region.

The Philadelphia Association of Retail Druggists, or PARD, says many pharmacies are losing money on prescription reimbursements, causing many stores to shut down.

"We lost $3.89," said pharmacist Brad Tabacc, showing the receipt of one prescription he filled this week. "Here's one we lost $20.80."

"How long can you continue to lose money in the hopes that we'll get some reform?" asked Tabacc, who has been the pharmacy manager at Friendly Pharmacy in Kensington for decades.

He says reforms need to happen. Otherwise, he could end up closed too.

"The bottom line is if pharmacies can't get paid appropriately for the prescriptions they expense, they can't turn the lights on," said Rob Franklin, the executive director of PARD.

Three of the Rite Aid stores that will close soon are in the city.

RELATED: Several more Rite Aid stores closing in the Philadelphia area amid bankruptcy filing

Philadelphia-based Rite Aid is closing even more locations following its recent bankruptcy filing.

"We're now up to close to 80 pharmacies in Pennsylvania have closed since January of 2024," said Frankil

Rite Aid says it considers a lot of factors for store closings including leases, rent and store performance.

Some of those stores, like the former Rite Aid in Grays Ferry on the 3000 block of Reed Street, or the former storefront in Kensington on Aramingo Avenue, are now empty.

That leaves the neighborhood in what experts call a 'pharmacy desert,' where residents do not have easy access to their medications.

"Elderly, disabled, underserved people who live in these neighborhoods have to go a mile or a mile and a half to a pharmacy. That's a long way for these people to go to get their medicine filled," said Frankil.

"My father actually goes to this pharmacy all the time," James Gregory from Southwest Philadelphia said of the Rite Aid on Woodland Avenue.

The closure leaves neighbors like him to worry about how their loved ones will get their medicine.

"Most of them are on fixed income. Now you have to pay for a hack or a taxi or Uber or Lyft. All pretty pricey and taking away from their income," he said.

Pharmacists were in Harrisburg this week talking to legislators about reform and advocating for better contracts so they get better reimbursements for the medicine they sell to customers.

There are currently bills in both the Pennsylvania House and Senate concerning pharmacy reimbursements.