Loss of Local Pharmacies in Rural U.S.

MINNEAPOLIS
Aug. 7, 2018

From 2003-2018, independently-owned rural pharmacies declined approximately 16 percent according to data from the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs. The closing of rural pharmacies affects vulnerable demographics, such as the elderly and those suffering from chronic illnesses—leading to poorer health outcomes for individuals and their communities. This is because independently-owned pharmacies are more likely to be a sole source of pharmaceutical services.

“Patients who receive their care at independent pharmacies often develop more trusting relationships with their pharmacist and rely on them to a greater extent compared to a large chain pharmacy," said Michael Swanoski, PharmD, senior associate dean. "Pharmacists practicing in independent pharmacies may have more time to spend with patients, not only in providing medication education and advice, but also helping them navigate insurance challenges or the necessity to see their physician."

Swanoski, who studies population health using epidemiological research and analytical methods, says there are ways for local pharmacists to reverse the downward trend.

“Independent pharmacies must explore opportunities for expanding the number of patients they serve as well as the services they provide," he said. "There may be opportunities to provide medications for patients living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Expanding services at the pharmacy to include immunization administration, comprehensive medication management, and collaborative practice agreements with medical providers that allow pharmacists to manage chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes should be considered.”

Contact: Amy Leslie, College of Pharmacy, 612-624-7654, johns423@umn.edu