Clarification: The Oregon State University pharmacy is closing because revenue produced by the pharmacy is not competitive with the cost to remain open, according to Steve Clark, vice president of University Relations and Marketing.
After decades of operation, the Oregon State University pharmacy will be closing its doors June 15 because revenue produced was not competitive with the cost to remain open, according to Steve Clark, vice president of University Relations and Marketing.
The pharmaceutical program has been cancelled in conjunction with the closure. Since the university’s announcement, a petition has been circulating to combat the decision. Now, even with close to 4,000 signatures and counting, students and employees of the pharmacy are unsure how OSU will move forward.
Ty Triplett, College of Pharmacy student, employee at OSU’s pharmacy and creator of the petition, said himself and his coworkers were taken completely off guard by the university’s announcement. Triplett said he believes this closure will be a major disruption in OSU’s health services.
“The university has yet to draft a formal notification to students about the closure of the pharmacy on campus. The closure is on [June 15], and only a small fraction of students know about it,” Triplett said via email. “This puts the pharmacy staff in a challenging position because of the immense effort that goes into closing a pharmacy.”
The closest pharmacy to OSU is located in Fred Meyer off Kings Boulevard. Being just shy of a mile away from campus may seem like a small distance, but for many students, this will be a great change.
The university’s pharmacy aided students in giving them access to cheaper over-the-counter drugs, the option to bill to student accounts and the proximity to on-campus housing. Students without transportation will now have to find a way to get to Fred Meyer when they need a prescription filled or are looking for over-the-counter medicine.
“Sounds simple, but the closest pharmacy is roughly a mile away, and OSU discourages students from bringing their vehicles onto campus,” Triplett said via email. “As a first-year student or international student, there’s no reason to leave campus, but now if they’re sick, they’ll have no choice but to somehow navigate a new town.”
Heather Corello, pharmD candidate & Student Health Services pharmacy intern, also said she believes that closing the pharmacy is disappointing and will hurt student life on campus.
“The pharmacy provides an incredible learning environment for pharmacy students. We’re able to develop skills with hands-on patient care, counseling and vaccinating,” Corello said via email. “We’ll be able to move to different learning sites, but it’ll be sad to say goodbye to such an amazing team.”
The pharmacy located on OSU’s campus is independent of the university. OSU’s Student Health Services will remain open and offering standard services to students.
Triplett said the pharmacy on campus helps to alleviate some of the burden on OSU’s SHS. With only a month of opening left, the Student Health Center will have to figure out a way to accommodate this new rush of medical needs.
The decision to close the pharmacy was a shock to some, considering the date to shut it down was announced with only a month of operation left. Even with this quick movement, Clark said the operating costs have been draining for years leading up to the university’s announcement.
Corello said it may be true that the pharmacy has been losing money, but as a university, she believes OSU should have shown more support in the loss of an essential service that promotes the health and wellbeing of the campus’ community.
“Public health programs should not have their necessity be evaluated based on the profit they make, but rather the quality of care they bring to the community in which the services are provided,” Corello said via email.
Since news of the closure has broke, there are no transitional procedures in place to ease students and staff through the shut down—as employees will lose their jobs and students will have to relocate to a new pharmacy.
“Currently there is not a formal plan from the university to handle the closure/transition of pharmacy services,” Triplett said via email. “As students, we have been trying to get the word out to the rest of the university, through my petition, that the campus pharmacy is closing because the administration has yet to handle the task.”
Grace Kuo, dean of the College of Pharmacy, Patty Beaumont, executive assistant to the dean, and the Executive Director’s Office of Student Health Services did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.