CVS Is Under Fire for Getting Rid of This, as of June 7

Customers are calling on the drugstore company to reconsider this decision.

Despite being one of the biggest drugstore companies in the U.S., CVS has made multiple choices over the last year that have not gone over well with its customers. This past winter, CVS temporarily shuttered some of its pharmacies over multiple weekends to help mitigate staff shortages amid the Omicron surge. Customers reported that they had not been given much notice on the closures, and were unexpectedly met with closed drive-thrus and pharmacy counters. And just this month, CVS was hit with a class-action lawsuit from a customer who claims that its store-brand alcohol-based hand sanitizer is being marketed to shoppers under false pretenses. Now, the company is under fire again for a decision that hasn't even gone into effect yet. Read on to find out what CVS is planning to get rid of next month.

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CVS has been making a number of changes.

People shopping at CVS / pharmacy; CVS Pharmacy is a subsidiary of the American retail and health care company CVS Health

CVS has made some other major changes recently that have mostly played out without much pushback, including a number of permanent store closures. In Nov. 2021, the drugstore company announced plans to close about 300 stores every year for the next three years, CNBC reported at the time. While this is set to account for about 9 percent of CVS' nearly 10,000 U.S. stores, the company said it was part of a larger effort to turn its remaining stores into healthcare destinations in order to better serve customers across the country. This includes two new store formats—one which will offer primary care services, and another dubbed HealthHub, which will sell a wider variety of medical products, as well as offer more services such as therapy appointments and health screenings.

But one new closure is prompting substantial criticism.

store closing in suburban shopping center

Last year, CVS announced that store closures for its three-year plan would start in spring 2022, although it did not say which stores it would be shuttering. Now, CVS has confirmed that an upcoming closure is set for the location in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, WGN-TV recently reported. According to the news outlet, this store will shut its doors for good on June 7. The announcement sparked immediate backlash.

Michael Rodríguez, a community leader for the neighborhood, and other local elected officials sent a letter to CVS from Rodríguez's office on May 18, asking the company to reconsider plans to close the location, according to the Chicago Tribune. Other members of the Little Village community also gathered on May 27 to protest the closure and urge CVS to keep the location open.

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Customers worry the closure will leave them without their prescriptions.

Closeup shot of an unrecognizable pharmacist assisting a customer in a chemist

Rodríguez told the Chicago Tribune that he learned about CVS' plans to close the Little Village location several weeks ago. Since then his office has received "a number of phone calls primarily from seniors in the neighborhood, worried about where they're going to go and fulfill their prescriptions," he said.

In his letter to CVS, the community leader noted that the pharmacy's next closest location is in Cicero, a suburb of Chicago located about two and a half miles away from the Little Village CVS. According to the Chicago Tribune, CVS confirmed in a statement that all prescriptions being filled at the Little Village location will be transferred to its Cicero store once it shuts down. Residents without cars will have to take one or two buses to fill their prescriptions at this location, according to Rodríguez.

If customers don't want to go to the Cicero location, the company also said that they can choose to transfer their medications to other CVS pharmacies. There is also a Walgreens pharmacy down the street from the soon-to-be shuttered Little Village CVS, but as the Chicago Tribune explains, some patients cannot transfer their prescriptions to this nearby pharmacy because Aetna—which is owned by CVS—dropped Walgreens from its Aetna Better Health of Illinois Medicaid network in Dec. 2020.

CVS said it takes into account a number of factors when closing locations.

CVS/pharmacy store front and sign. CVS Pharmacy is the second largest pharmacy chain in the United States.

CVS declined to disclose exactly how many prescriptions it currently fills at the Little Village store but said it considers community "access to pharmacy services" in its decisions to close locations. "Maintaining access to pharmacy services in historically underserved communities is an important factor we consider when making store closure decisions," CVS said in its statement, per the Chicago Tribune.

The company added, "Other factors include local market dynamics, cultural and language barriers, consumer buying patterns, a community's store density, and ensuring there are other geographic access points to meet the needs of the community, including COVID-19 testing and vaccinations."

But Anne Scheetz, MD, a committee member of the Physicians for a National Health Program Illinois, said at a May 27 news conference that there are four CVS pharmacies within walking distance of her house in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. "They are adding stores in wealthy neighborhoods. And they're closing them in these neighborhoods. That ain't right," she said.

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