What do CVS store closures say about the future of pharmacies?
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CVS says it is planning to close about 900 stores over the next three years, starting in 2022. The company says it’s an effort to review the retail side of its business, and focus on more health care services.
The pharmacies of the future are going to be less about picture frames and beach balls, said Northwestern Professor Craig Garthwaite, and more about health services and primary care.
“It really make it look more like, you know, a doctor’s office that has some stuff you can buy, as opposed to a place where you buy stuff that has a doctor’s office attached to it,” he said.
CVS has been heading this way even before the pandemic, Garthwaite said, since acquiring the insurance company Aetna in 2018.
“I think this is entirely and only about the making money,” he said.
But when it comes to choosing which stores to close, business-driven motivations can be problematic, said USC professor Dima Qato who has studied geographic access to pharmacies.
“We know when pharmacies close, including chains, they’re more likely to close in underserved low-income minority neighborhoods,” Qato said.
In a statement, CVS said choosing which stores to close will be determined by local market dynamics, store density and the needs of underserved communities.
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