ICYMI: Maps show increased closures and pharmacy deserts

NCPA June 20, 2024

Two recently-published maps highlighting the growing issue of pharmacy closures are drawing attention to important health care access concerns—and providing fuel to those advocating for passage of comprehensive PBM reforms! One map was published by APhA and the University of Pittsburgh, and the other by the Associated Press. These efforts complement the Pharmacy Shortage Area mapping project NCPA has been undertaking in recent years along with the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy. 

The map created by APhA and the University of Pittsburgh uses NCPDP data to show pharmacy closures nationwide progressively from January 2014 to March 2024. The authors note that as pharmacy closures are voluntarily reported to NCPDP by the store, closure dates may not match dates published by the media and encourage users to report these cases.

The Associated Press performed its own analysis of pharmacy deserts across the country based on pharmacies per capita. An added layer to this research is the ability to view demographics by ZIP code. The results of this study are in line with previous studies showing that black and Latino communities are disproportionately affected by pharmacy deserts.

In 2021, NCPA partnered with the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy to form the USC-NCPA Pharmacy Access Initiative, which went on to launch our Pharmacy Shortage Areas Mapping Tool in 2022. This innovative tool shows pharmacy deserts at the neighborhood level using thresholds established by industry experts and validated through prior work. A major finding is that 1 in 4 neighborhoods, representing millions of lives, are identified as pharmacy deserts in the United States. The tool also incorporates demographic information to create summaries of pharmacy shortage areas at the state and county levels—considering socioeconomic factors and transportation—to generate a more accurate picture of true pharmacy access. This granular data empowers advocates to target their efforts effectively and fight for better access to medications in underserved communities. Learn more about pharmacy deserts and the Pharmacy Shortage Areas Mapping Tool in the April issue of America’s Pharmacist® magazine.