Drug store closure draws concerns of ‘pharmacy desert’


ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Two pharmacies have closed between the South End and Arbor Hill neighborhoods leaving a void in the underserved communities.

The closure of Walgreens on N. Pearl Street has neighbors like John Noisette feeling overlooked.

“The Rite Aid left a few years ago. Nothing came to replace it. Walgreens is no longer here, so people are underserved for their medical needs,” Noisette said.

Now that the Walgreens has closed, Lincoln and Central Avenue Pharmacies are the closest to downtown residents. The drug stores are more than a mile away from the closed Walgreens location.

“As usual, we’re left out,” Noisette said.

“This creates what we call a ‘pharmacy desert.’ It’s a difficult thing to be in normal times, but it’s particularly difficult in a pandemic,” said Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences President Greg Dewey.

Dewey has an outreach program that puts student pharmacists at the Whitney M Young Health Center in Arbor Hill.

“As we are sitting there in these communities, the desert has gotten worse. We’re seeing the few pharmacies that were close to our pharmacy shutdown,” Dewey said.

Dewey says pharmacies are disappearing because of a lack of profit. The closings come at a time when drug stores are becoming more important in the fight against COVID-19 as vaccination and testing hubs.

But long after the pandemic is over, Noisette said the impact of its void will be felt.

“When the economics are not good in the community you continue to have what you have. You have crime; you have people who can’t get jobs,” Noisette said.

NEWS10 ABC reached out to Walgreens for comment on the N. Pearl St. closure, but they did not respond.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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