Independent Albany pharmacy faces challenges

Albany County

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Since 1935, Lincoln Pharmacy has been serving the Albany community. For over 30 years, it’s been owned and operated by Zarina Jalal’s family—a tradition that she hopes will continue. She said this year has been difficult for the business and that the pandemic is partially to blame.

“Our transactions and our front end sales are down about 25%,” explained Zarina Jalal, a local pharmacist. “So what that means is that people are condensing their visits into one or less trip and they are spending less with each trip.”

According to Jalal, the goal of her family’s business has always been to make the pharmacy more accessible by offering free delivery. Since the pandemic, they have been delivering to more people.

“We’ve had to cut back and place limitations on some of our services,” said Jalal. “For example, if a person calls in for a prescription, we’ve always offered free delivery, but we’ve started to limit the number of times we will go to a person’s house in a week or a month. Limit the distance that we will go to serve a person for free, because with our margins shrinking, we haven’t been able to serve as many people as we want to.”

Not only has the pandemic put a strain on her business, but she says pharmacy benefit managers are too.

“They work between your health plan and pharmacies to set prices and maintain contracts and also maintain what’s called formularies, which are lists of approved medications.”

Jalal said she worries that in 2021, there will be fewer pharmacies in business and hopes Governor Cuomo will sign legislation regulating pharmacy benefit managers in New York State. 

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