Whether we like it or not, the retail market is changing and retail pharmacies are following suit. As of September, U.S. retailers have announced 8,567 retail store closings in 2019. That’s nearly 1.5 times the total number of closings in all of 2018, 5,8441.
Just last week, CVS announced plans to close 22 retail pharmacy stores in 2020, after already closing 46 stores earlier this year. Walgreens announced in August that it will close 200 of its stores, and retail chain Fred’s is closing all of its 568 stores, including 169 locations with full-service pharmacies.
If you are a covered entity participating in the 340B program, a retail pharmacy closure can leave your patients displaced, it can cause patient adherence and service problems, and (if the closing location is one of your 340B retail contract pharmacies) it can cause significant financial impact to your organization.
Here are a few steps to take if you find out that a retail pharmacy in your service area is closing.
- Assess. You will likely want to know:
- How many of your patients use the closing location? How many will be displaced from the location they are used to using?
- Is this one of your 340B contract pharmacies? If so, how much will this impact your 340B program and your organization? Are you able to report on the 340B savings / revenue that the closing location generated for your organization last year?
- Is the closing location referring patients to a new pharmacy location? If they are, you’ll want to know:
- Is the new store a reasonable alternative for your patients? Is it close and as convenient as the previous location? If not, this can impact adherence rates.
- Is the new location one of your 340B contract pharmacies? If not, you will lose the 340B savings if your patients are transferred there.
- Act. Once you know more about the situation, it would be ideal to proactively communicate the information to your patients who will be affected by the pharmacy closing.
- Pull a list of patients whose prescriptions have been sent to that pharmacy location in the past year.
- Send those patients notification of the pharmacy change, and offer advice on alternative locations or ways of getting prescriptions. Here is a sample template of a notification that may be helpful.
- Once the pharmacy is closed, you will want to terminate the pharmacy registration on the OPA.
Juliet Quick, Senior Director of Marketing and 340B Client Sales
Juliet leads the teams that tell people about Equiscript and the work we do to improve access to healthcare in the communities we serve. Her dedication to client success and patient care helps us ensure that we help clients build quality pharmacy programs with a focus on patient health outcomes.