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Nearly 40% of Black neighborhoods were pharmacy deserts

According to Health Affairs, the Black and Latino neighborhoods are disproportionately located in Pharmacy deserts. The study highlights care access concerns that may compound racial health disparities.Pharmacy deserts can be dangerous because they impact medication abidance.When a patient lives in an area without convenient access to a pharmacy, it can keep her from filling her medications, putting her chronic disease management and overall wellness at risk. The study investigated the availability of pharmacies across neighborhoods in the thirty most populous US cities from 2007 through 2015, finding that these Pharmacy deserts disproportionately impact communities of color.

In 2015, one-third of all communities studied were Pharmacy deserts, affecting prescription medication access, and in many cases medication adherence, for almost fifteen million people. Totally 26.7% of White and 28.2% of diverse neighborhoods were Pharmacy deserts when compared to 38.5% and 39.5% of Black and Latino neighborhoods.

The researchers also found that neighborhoods that experienced racial health disparities in pharmacy access were not always federally designated as Medically Underserved Areas. In 2015, Black neighborhoods had an average of 0.85 pharmacies and Hispanic neighborhoods had 0.97 pharmacies. White and diverse neighborhoods had 1.15 and 1.23 pharmacies on average.Racial care access disparities between Black people and White people were most significant in Chicago, Illinois. Over 32% of Black neighborhoods were in Pharmacy deserts compared to 1.2% of White neighborhoods. Dallas had a high rate of pharmacy access disparity as well, with 86.3% of Black neighborhoods defined as pharmacy deserts versus 20.6% of White neighborhoods.

Pharmacy access disparities were also significant in Los Angeles, California; Baltimore, Maryland; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Boston, Massachusetts; and Albuquerque, New Mexico. The researchers found that in addition to having fewer pharmacies, to begin with, Black and Hispanic neighborhoods were more likely to experience pharmacy closures.In White and diverse neighborhoods, pharmacy closure rates were 11.0 and 11.7%. In contrast, Black and Hispanic neighborhoods saw pharmacy closure rates of 14.1% and 15.9%, respectively.

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