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Student Pharmacy to close

The Student Health pharmacy has been operating at a deficit since 2005. Student prescriptions previously filled at the pharmacy will be transferred to the outpatient clinic pharmacy located in the Duke Hospital South Clinic.
The Student Health pharmacy has been operating at a deficit since 2005. Student prescriptions previously filled at the pharmacy will be transferred to the outpatient clinic pharmacy located in the Duke Hospital South Clinic.

The Student Health pharmacy, in its 40th year of operation, will close Dec. 18, Student Health administrators announced Tuesday.

Student prescriptions previously filled at the pharmacy will be transferred to the outpatient clinic pharmacy located in the Duke Hospital South Clinic two floors above the Student Health Center. The decision to close the pharmacy was made by upper-level administrators less than a month ago after continued attempts to sustain the pharmacy.

The Student Health pharmacy has been operating at a deficit since 2005, when Congress passed the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 that allowed pharmaceutical companies to discontinue discounts on drugs, said Jean Hanson, administrative director of Student Health. Student Health pharmacist Steve Almond and pharmacy technician Cora Harris will be dismissed, said Dr. Bill Purdy, executive director of Student Health.

“We are very disappointed here at Student Health that we couldn’t keep [the pharmacy] open,” Purdy said. “We’ve tried very hard in the past three years to make ends meet.” He added that the pharmacy has decreased its inventory and been cost-conscious. Hanson noted that the situation has been difficult. “It’s going to be less service for the students,” Hanson said.

Purdy said the pharmacy, which serves about 9,000 individuals and fills about 17,000 prescriptions each year, will close in accordance with guidelines set by the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy. The Student Health Center will continue to administer vaccines and provide over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol and cough syrup.

Purdy said all prescriptions will be transferred automatically to the outpatient pharmacy unless students request to transfer their prescriptions to an off-campus pharmacy. Outpatient pharmacy Manager Jim Stefanadis said he looks forward to serving students in addition to the Duke patients and employees currently served at the outpatient pharmacy. Purdy, Stefanadis and Chief Pharmacy Officer Paul Bush met Tuesday to discuss the transition.

“Our plan is to make the transfer as seamless as possible,” Stefanadis said.

The outpatient pharmacy, which maintains a staff of 11 employees, has filled prescriptions for students when the Student Health pharmacy was temporarily closed, Stefanadis added. Purdy said the outpatient pharmacy carries a wider selection of medications than the Student Health pharmacy does.

For years, the main source of income for the Student Health pharmacy was birth control pills, Hansen said, and prior to the 2005 Deficit Reduction Plan, Student Health was able to purchase the pills at a deep discount.

She noted that other college pharmacies are struggling, and an increasing number are closing. Florida State University’s Thagard Student Health Center pharmacy closed last December. Successful college pharmacies often have access to large space and sell other drugstore items, such as toiletries and magazines, she said.

Hanson said the pharmacy has always received good reviews from students in Student Health’s patient satisfaction survey.

She added that Almond, who has worked at the pharmacy for 26 years, has a “special knack for talking with students.”

“It’s always sad when long-term employees—loyal, hardworking people—have to be let go,” Hanson said.

Although Hanson regrets the pharmacy’s closing, she said the University must adjust to current circumstances.

“As disappointed as we are... we have to move on,” she said.

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