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. “The Bankruptcy of Rite Aid: Pharmacies in Sharp Decline

Rite Aid, one of the largest pharmacy chains in the US, has declared bankruptcy and is seeking a revitalization plan that is likely to keep their number of pharmacies dwindling. This comes as a major blow to those seeking reliable access to medical supplies, particularly during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For decades, Rite Aid has been a major provider of over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, beauty products, and more. While their services were already lacking in rural areas, they have now filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a bid to restructure their $6.8 billion debt and to enable them to keep operating. As part of their plan, Rite Aid will reduce their number of pharmacies from over 2,400 to just 500 to 700 standalone stores. This is to be supplemented by another 2,000 to 3,000 in-store pharmacies—representing roughly a quarter of their total locations. The reduced store count will leave many communities without a Rite Aid pharmacy within driving distance. The bankruptcy announcement comes at a tough time for those dealing with health challenges, despite the increased availability of telemedicine technology. Some areas have limited digital infrastructure, making it hard for consumers to access medical help remotely. Coupled with this is the difficulty of getting to a pharmacy, often due to transportation obstacles and lack of nearby options. This decline in Rite Aid’s presence means that many consumers will find, in essence, fewer pharmacies and importantly, fewer options to access the medicines and supplies they need for their health. Adding to this loss, it’s likely that those facilities that remain open may suffer from a reduced selection of products. Rite Aid certainly isn’t the only pharmacy chain experiencing a turnaround. Many have been closed down or merged with others due to economic strife. While the news may be disheartening for many, it’s also a reminder that access to health care is an ever-shifting and increasingly challenging landscape. As we continue to face an uncertain future, it’s important to remain informed about what options are available for receiving the drugs and medical services.