Drugstore pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens have announced reduced hours as a shortage of pharmacists has led to inadequate staffing.
- Some of the largest drugstore chains—including CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart—will cut their hours beginning in March. Nearly two-thirds of CVS locations and 4,600 Walmart pharmacies will be affected.
- CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart operate nearly 24,000 pharmacies nationwide.
- Reduced hours are due to labor shortages as pharmacies struggle to hire adequate pharmacists.
- While demand for pharmacists has risen, the projected employment growth is only 2%, Forbes reports.
- Pharmacy labor shortages have led to increasingly stressful working conditions for currently employed pharmacists. Additionally, pharmacists’ wages have not risen with inflation.
- The new pharmacy hours will vary based on location.
Why it’s news
Fewer available hours can lead to difficulty for patients looking to fill prescriptions. Staffing shortages have also led to frustrated customers as their wait times are longer.
Some chains are starting to look for alternatives like automation. For example, Walgreens is researching automated prescription fills that would reduce a pharmacist’s workload, The Wall Street Journal reports.
While reduced pharmacy hours could inconvenience patients, this isn’t the first time there has been a pharmacist shortage in the U.S.
In 2000, new pharmaceutical schools opened across the country to meet the demand for pharmacists. However, the number of pharmacists produced through the schools outpaced demand. As a result, the pharmacists petitioned the schools to stop accreditation until 2030, Forbes reports.
Now, data shows that there are 13,600 pharmacist openings yearly in the U.S. These openings predominantly come from pharmacists leaving the industry or retiring.