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Busch’s Shutters In-Store Pharmacies

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Citing complexities with prescription pharmacy and the changing healthcare industry, Busch’s Fresh Food Market here is closing its pharmacies, according to reports.

The 15-store retailer’s eight pharmacies are scheduled to close this week so that it can better focus on its food business. Busch’s did not return SN’s request for comment, but according to reports is working with local Rite-Aid and CVS pharmacies to transfer its customers’ prescriptions.

John Norton, spokesman for the National Community Pharmacists Association, isn’t familiar with Busch’s closures, but noted that shrinking reimbursement rates from pharmacy benefit managers and Medicaid and Medicare programs are likely involved.

“Whenever I hear about a pharmacy closing they talk about two areas: the pharmacy benefit managers…and the challenges of basic reimbursement for government programs,” Norton said.

Medicaid cutbacks usually target providers rather than beneficiaries, and PBMs take business from community pharmacies by requiring patients to use their own mail-order prescription services, he added.

“If you ask these pharmacies ‘is your competition the Walgreens, the Rite-Aids and the CVS’ of the world, they’ll say ‘no that’s really not our competition, our competition is the PBM’s mail-order pharmacies,’” Norton said.

Despite these pressures, the number of community pharmacies has grown in the last year, albeit marginally, from 23,064 to 23,106, according to the 2012 NSCPA Digest released Monday.


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