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Why are neighborhood pharmacies disappearing? Ask the Noriega Family.

Lissette Campos – July 15, 2020 I arrived at Bill’s Prescription Center in Brandon an hour early, half expecting to find a quiet operation with the owner prepping for our television interview. After all, how busy can they be? I’m here because neighborhood pharmacies like this one, close to 100 in the Tampa Bay area alone, are in danger of closing. Common sense would have you believe the disappearing act is caused by a lack of customers. Three minutes in, I realized there’s nothing common sense about this situation. A steady stream of customers didn’t just walk in for their medicines, they arrived for, what felt like, a family reunion! “Hi Basil? How are you?” asked one woman, smiling under her face mask. “How’s your Dad?” asked a gentleman. “I love this place!” another customer whispered my way. “…been my pharmacy for years.” – the microphone in my hand inspiring …

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Neighborhood pharmacies struggle to stay open due to PBM restrictions

Tampa Bay News 10, July 9, 2020 So far, at least 8 independent Tampa Bay pharmacies have shut down because of challenges with Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM). As COVID-19 cases skyrocket in Florida, we’ve talked a lot about what doctors’ offices are doing, but what about pharmacies? Whether you realize it or not, your pharmacy options are becoming more limited but not because of COVID, but from something called Pharmacy Benefit Managers, or PBMs. It’s a big enough problem that one Tampa lawmaker is working to pass a bill to protect independent pharmacies and demand transparency. “Our motto here at Bill’s Prescription is to treat people like family,” pharmacist and owner of Bill’s Prescription John Basil Noriega said. Noriega’s family opened their own pharmacy back in 1956 in Brandon, at a time when the city population was just 2,000 people. “We have a lot of life long customers. We consider …

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Independent Pharmacists Stress Personal Touch In An Industry Dominated By Chains

The Town Crier, February 28, 2020 On Wednesday, Feb. 19, the advocacy group Small Business Pharmacies Aligned for Reform (SPAR) hosted a press conference at My Community Pharmacy in Wellington regarding pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and their effect on pharmaceutical pricing. Speakers at the event outlined what they called “shady” practices in the PBM industry that aims to put independent pharmacies, such as My Community Pharmacy, out of business. The pharmacy is located at 2615 S. State Road 7 near Whole Food Market in Wellington, owned by Johnny Meier, one of the speakers at the event. In attendance with Meier were other local, independent pharmacists, customers and Wellington Mayor Anne Gerwig. Several speakers addressed the problems involving pharmacy benefit managers — middlemen who are supposed to negotiate savings for customers — and complained that they do not, in practice, benefit either the pharmacists or their customers. The pharmacists addressed several bills …

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Opinion: Your local pharmacy is at risk of going away

83 Degrees, July 14, 2020 Tampa summers are typically the “slow season” for local pharmacies. But during COVID-19, nothing is typical nor should be taken for granted. The coronavirus pandemic coined the term “essential workers” and your local pharmacy is obviously essential, right? Pharmacies are always open, even in a public health crisis. Of course, they’re open, why wouldn’t they be open? Pharmacies are always there when people need them. But what happens if your local pharmacy can’t be there for you? Opinion column by Pharmacist Alex HerwigA recent survey among Florida independent pharmacies shed light on a little-known, but critical issue. Intended to examine the viability of Florida’s Medicaid managed care model on local pharmacies, the survey instead uncovered disturbing statistics: 61 percent of community pharmacies are being forced to reconsider participating in the Medicaid system. Another 41 percent are considering whether to close their business altogether. The problem …

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Okeechobee pharmacist demands ‘special session on drug pricing reform’

NBC WPTV 5, February 13, 2020 A popular pharmacist is calling for prescription drug pricing reform in Florida after a newly released report shows small pharmacies are having a difficult time competing with corporate giants and some in our region fear they will have to close their doors. For decades JoAnne White has chosen Okeechobee Discount Drugs for the savings and the people. “The prescriptions are just ridiculous,” said White. “If [this drugstore] goes out of business and I have to go to one of these others – I don’t know what I’ll have to do.” On Thursday, White and other customers stood in the drugstore – not for prescriptions – but to draw attention to the need for reform. “It is imperative that we demand a special session on drug pricing reform,” said Steven Nelson, a registered pharmacist, and Okeechobee Discount Drugs owner. “Lawmakers in Tallahassee continue to walk …

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