SAN JUAN – The executive director of the Community Pharmacy Association, Linda Ayala, called on the Governor of Puerto Rico, Wanda Vázquez Garced, on Monday, not to give in to pressure from lobbyists from large pharmacy chains who seek their entry to the Government Health Plan (PSG) served by community pharmacies since 1993.
“We call on the Governor to be in harmony with the public policy of this administration to protect the small and medium local merchant that has been so affected by hurricanes, earthquakes and the pandemic does not give way to the large chains in the Plan of Government Health. As an example, Walgreens participated as a pharmacy provider for PSG until 2003 and left when the Health Insurance Administration (ASES) refused to accept the drug rates they wanted to impose and that would have increased the cost of drugs for government. Given the low population, they are looking to expand their business at the expense of the pharmacies here. That cannot be allowed, ”Ayala said in a written communication.
The Association of Community Pharmacies indicates that this issue will affect the health services of the most vulnerable population because it will bankrupt community pharmacies in many municipalities, undermining the more than 14,500 direct jobs created by community pharmacies.
“After more than 15 years of absence as a provider of the PSG they want to stay with the market and displace the community pharmacies that have served the PSG patients so well, according to ASES ‘own data. If we bankrupt the local pharmacies, what is going to happen when the parent companies of these pharmacies decide to leave the country because it is not profitable for their business model and we have to rebuild the community pharmacy? It’s going to be uphill and very difficult ”, questioned the executive.
Since the PSG was created in 1993, community pharmacies have been successful providers of ASES with 94 percent satisfaction of Plan beneficiaries with the service of community pharmacies, according to a survey conducted by ASES.
“Unlike chain pharmacies, community pharmacies are in all unpopulated areas and low-income communities. Large pharmacy chains are located exclusively in the country’s metropolitan areas and in areas with mass transit routes. We ask the Governor not to give way to pressure and lobbying from these companies because of how disastrous it would be for community pharmacies and patients of the Government Health Plan. We call on the Governor-elect, Pedro Pierluisi, to be aware of this situation and to support community pharmacies in their claim, as recently expressed publicly, ”Ayala indicated.
By 2018, community pharmacies created a total of 14,413 jobs across the island, with an approximate volume of drug sales of $ 1.1 billion per year compared to the volume of large chain pharmacies of $ 1.2 billion per year. . Community pharmacies have hired between 25 percent and 30 percent of all pharmacy sector employees in Puerto Rico in the last 10 years.
The community pharmacies are over 800 small and medium merchants that generate wealth that remain in Puerto Rico. They have a distinctly Puerto Rican employment. Contrary to chain pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS who take their profits to other jurisdictions.