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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Behind the on-campus pharmacy closing

A+Walgreens+pharmacist+looks+for+a+patients+prescription+Saturday%2C+Aug.+26%2C+2023%2C+in+San+Marcos.
Nichaela Shaheen
A Walgreens pharmacist looks for a patient’s prescription Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023, in San Marcos.

Students who once filled and picked up prescriptions using the Student Health Center (SHC) now find themselves at Walgreens’ pharmacy as the on-campus service is extinguished.

“What [the SHC] has seen over the past several years is just a decline in volume of students using the on-campus pharmacy to fill their prescriptions,” Vice President for Student Success Cynthia Hernandez said. 

The announcement of the on-campus pharmacy closing after 45 years of operation came May 26 as university officials saw no way to continue given financial burdens. Competition, low patient volume for prescriptions and insurance reimbursements dropping over the years contributed to the decision, according to the Director of the SHC Dr. Emilio Carranco.

“The pharmacy business has changed dramatically over the years. When I first arrived.. the medicines were primarily generic and most of them were inexpensive. Fast forward 30 years later, and most of the medicines that students are asking for now are name brand drugs,” Carranco said. “We accept insurance but over the years insurance has been decreasing its reimbursement for pharmaceuticals.”

The Texas State Board of Pharmacy tasks all closing pharmacies to send previous patient’s medical records to nearby facilities and give a 14-day closure notice. The SHC sent 5,723 emails to patients serviced within the past two years, of whom 3,599 are students enrolled this fall. The SHC sent patient record to nearby Walgreens locations.

“When the pharmacy first sprung up, they were really the closest pharmacy for students to access,” Hernandez said.  “But now with all these other pharmacies popping up in the community, we just saw increased competition and we saw our sales go down.”

University officials felt they were no longer providing a service, rather wasting resources. The SHC will allocate the funds once used for the pharmacy for other areas within the SHC. Texas State President Kelly Damphousse said there could’ve been a potential increase in tuition if the pharmacy would have remained operational.

“We can’t keep providing a service that has diminishing interest. The cost doesn’t just stay the same, they actually increase and the usage goes down,” Damphousse said. “The cost has to be covered somewhere… You raise tuition, or you raise fees. We thought we could eliminate that part of what we’re offering so we can keep the cost down and provide more services in other places.”

Meagan Walters

Texas State’s pharmacy isn’t the only college facility closing its doors. The University of Texas closed its pharmacy a couple of years ago and the University of North Texas closed its pharmacy about a year ago – a trend Carranco predicts will be seen more of.

“Being able to provide students with a variety of services is always the goal that we would like to pursue. However, we also have a responsibility to students to manage the funds that they provide in a reasonable manner and I think it would be unreasonable for us to continue losing the amount of money we were losing every year,” Carrranco said. “While we were all disappointed, the fact was that we couldn’t find a way to make it work.” 

According to Hernandez, while COVID-19 had some effect on the usage, the decline has remained even up until the announcement was made. The SHC will remain as a resource to help students navigate how to fill prescriptions. 

“We have staff in the health center that will help them identify and where they can get that [prescription] filled based on their needs, their timelines and even some of the delivery options that might be available to them,” Hernandez said. 

According to Carranco, former employees left with new jobs lined up. 

Two Walgreens are located within a two-mile radius of campus and Damphousse believes that suffices students needs. 

 

Per Walgreens’ media policy, pharmacists were unable to comment on the influx of providing services to new patients.   

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