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Pharmacies Are Cutting Hours and Closing Stores - What It Means for Patients

Written and medically reviewed by Dorcas Morak, Pharm.D

Updated on February 21st, 2023

Save up to 88% on your medications

> The pharmacist shortage is a national issue that affects many local pharmacies. It can lead to adjustments in hours and reduced staffing, which can create challenges for customers who rely on these pharmacies for their prescription medications. Some solutions that have been proposed include increasing the number of pharmacy schools and the number of residency programs, as well as offering incentives for pharmacists to work in underserved areas. Additionally, some states have begun to allow pharmacists to practice at a higher level of autonomy, which could help to alleviate the shortage.

Why are pharmacies cutting hours? 

Many pharmacies have claimed that staffing shortages were to blame for reducing hours. There are several accounts of pharmacists quitting their jobs because they are overwhelmed, underpaid, stressed, and burned out. Additionally, pharmacy stores have a hard time finding replacements to fill the void. As a result, they are forced to cut operating hours.

Why are pharmacies closing?

Experts attributed the closing down of pharmacies to many factors. These include:

  • Changes in consumer purchasing patterns. For example, more 90-day prescriptions are being filled leading to less store traffic.
  • Changes in population.
  • The intense competition that continues to pressure prescription profits, most notably the increased growth of technology-enabled online pharmacies.
  • Slim margins of profit on prescription drugs dictated by pharmacy benefit managers.
  • Pharmacies' concentration on developing digital services.

What are the trends in pharmacist employment over time?

Here are fast facts about pharmacist labor statistics:

  • More than three-quarters of roughly 360 independent pharmacy owners and managers surveyed have had a hard time filling open positions.
  • There was a 6% reduction in the number of pharmacists employed by pharmacies and drug stores between 2019 and 2021.
  • Over the next decade, there will be about 13,600 job openings for pharmacists each year on average.
  • Pharmacists' shortage results in longer wait times for patients.

How many pharmacies are closing?

The biggest pharmacy chains are among those impacted. In 2021, CVS announced plans to close 900 stores nationwide over three years. The company stated that it planned to close 300 stores in 2022 alone. Additionally, Rite Aid has closed more than 150 stores in 17 states since late 2021. Walgreens announced plans to close 200 stores in 2019.

What impact are these reduced pharmacy hours and closures having on patients?

Reduced pharmacy hours and closures can have a number of negative impacts on customers, including difficulty accessing needed medications, increased wait times to receive prescriptions, and increased travel time and costs for those who have to go to alternative pharmacies. Additionally, closures can be particularly challenging for those who rely on a specific pharmacist for personalized care and advice. It can also lead to medication errors if customers are forced to go to a different pharmacy and their records aren't transferred properly.

How can I find my closest pharmacy?

If you need help finding active pharmacies across the USA as well as their operating hours, use the RxLess pharmacy lookup tool. Search by state, city, or zip code to find the best-priced pharmacy in your area, and save up to 88% with an RxLess pharmacy discount card.

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