Small pharmacy straining after dramatic insurance cuts - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Small pharmacy straining after dramatic insurance cuts

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Pharmacies say insurance companies have cut reimbursements for Tamiflu. (KTEN) Pharmacies say insurance companies have cut reimbursements for Tamiflu. (KTEN)

SHERMAN, Texas -- New cuts to drug reimbursements could mean an uncertain future for family-owned pharmacies.

Heritage Parkway Pharmacy in Sherman said it is actually losing money by filling some prescriptions, like Tamiflu, which is in high demand right now. 

Pharmacist Raj Chhadua thought it was a mistake when he first noticed insurance companies were sharply reducing how much they would reimburse the pharmacy for some medications. But what's happening in Grayson County is being mirrored across the country.

"We really saw the real pinch of it occurring when the flu pandemic kicked up, because then we started seeing it on those key medications for flu," Chhadua said.

Tamiflu is one of those medications.

"If we buy Tamiflu at like $100, you know, we'll see reimbursements sometimes as low as $30, sometimes $40 or $50," pharmacy technician Tony Tilley explained. 

And that may be too much red ink for small businesses like this one to survive.

"It's all our livelihood... this is our livelihood, so we can't keep doing that," Chhadua said.

"If the reimbursements are so huge, at such a loss, then, you know, it seems like some pharmacies might be reluctant to mass stock it ... and that's what we don't want to see."

Heritage Parkway Pharmacy is determined to keep Tamiflu on the shelves despite the cost. But unless there's a solution for these cuts soon, the future doesn't look bright for neighborhood pharmacies.

"You're going to see those local mom-and-pop pharmacies, these independent pharmacies, start closing," Chhadua said. "And you're going to start to see 'pharmacy deserts' -- you're going to see areas where there's not any pharmacies, and that's a big scary impact."

That, in turn, hurts customers who depend on these stores.

"I have three insurance companies, so it covers me, but my in-laws, other people I know, it really affects their pocketbook big-time," customer Nadine May said.

Chhadua is urging his customers to talk to their elected representatives about what's happening.

"There's a bigger problem here than just me as one independent pharmacist," he said. "It's across the board with independent pharmacies."

The pharmacists said their main job is to make sure their patients are taking their medication. So for now, that's what they are going to continue to focus on.

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