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Pharmacy Access Varies by Racial, Ethnic Neighborhood Composition

Persistently fewer pharmacies located in Black and Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods than White or diverse neighborhoods

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FRIDAY, May 7, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Geographic accessibility of pharmacies varies within cities, with persistent disparities by neighborhood racial/ethnic composition, according to a report published in the May issue of Health Affairs.

Jenny S. Guadamuz, Ph.D., from the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy in Los Angeles, and colleagues examined pharmacy availability and geographic accessibility across neighborhoods based on their racial/ethnic composition in the 30 most populous U.S. cities.

The researchers found persistently fewer pharmacies located in Black and Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods than in White or diverse neighborhoods in all cities examined throughout 2007 to 2015. There were disproportionately more pharmacy deserts in Black or Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods than in White or diverse neighborhoods in 2015, including in neighborhoods not federally designated as medically underserved areas. In Chicago, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Dallas, Boston, and Albuquerque, these disparities were most pronounced. Compared with other neighborhoods, Black and Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods were more likely to experience pharmacy closures.

"Our findings suggest that efforts to improve access to medications and other health care services should consider the role of inequitable geographic access to pharmacies in cities across the U.S.," the authors write. "Such efforts could include financial incentives to encourage pharmacies to locate in pharmacy deserts and targeted increases to Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement rates to prevent pharmacy closures."

One author disclosed financial ties to Monument Analytics.

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