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Pharmacy Deserts: A Hidden Barrier to Health Equity

MakoRx is committed to supporting individuals and employers along their healthcare journey by helping them stay informed on the latest trends and technologies in healthcare and pharmacy.


The term pharmacy desert refers to an area where residents must travel at least ten miles to reach the nearest pharmacy. Due to the rise of pharmacy deserts, healthcare accessibility is becoming a pressing issue. These areas, typically found in urban and rural settings, lack easily accessible pharmacy services, creating significant hurdles for residents trying to obtain necessary medications. This barrier to health equity is a growing concern, as it has been linked to poorer health outcomes.  

Understanding the Impact of Pharmacy Deserts

Pharmacy deserts hinder health equity, impacting marginalized and impoverished communities. These areas often lack basic healthcare resources, including primary care facilities, hospitals, and specialized clinics. As a result, residents of pharmacy deserts usually face significant challenges in accessing necessary medications and other essential healthcare services.

The Consequences on Community Health

The lack of nearby pharmacies is more than just a minor inconvenience. It affects timely access to prescription medications and the ability to obtain critical health advice from pharmacists. When individuals have to travel farther for their medications, they are less likely to maintain consistent medication schedules, potentially leading to complications or negative health outcomes.

Impact on Emergency Medication Access

In pharmacy deserts, accessing emergency medications, such as asthma inhalers or EpiPens, becomes a challenge. This delay in access may lead to severe health crises or even life-threatening situations, underscoring the urgent need for more accessible pharmacy services in these areas.

Economic Implications

Beyond health implications, pharmacy deserts may also have economic consequences for communities. Limited access to pharmacies means residents may have to spend more on transportation costs, take time off work, or miss critical appointments to obtain their medications. This can further exacerbate financial strain and contribute to persistent health disparities.

Strategies to Combat Pharmacy Deserts

Support Local Pharmacies

One promising solution to address pharmacy deserts is supporting emerging legislation and requesting that local employers support their community pharmacies. Often, razor-thin margins on dispensing fees cause local pharmacies to close and exacerbate the problem of pharmacy deserts. By supporting legislation for fair dispensing fees paid by health insurance and advocating for your employer to utilize pharmacy benefits providers who have a reputation for fair pharmacy compensation, you can make a difference in supporting the existing local pharmacies that are left. Local pharmacies that offer same-day delivery services can also help bridge the gap for patients who live too far to reach them to pick up their medications. 

Leveraging Technology and Telepharmacy

Telepharmacy, which allows pharmacists to provide consultations and oversee medication management via virtual appointments, is another effective strategy. This technology helps manage chronic diseases and ensures continuous patient education, which is crucial in areas without physical pharmacy access.

MakoRx: Your Partner in Navigating Pharmacy Access Challenges

Take the next step in simplifying your healthcare experience with MakoRx. Our subscription-based pharmacy benefits provide your local pharmacies with fair compensation for dispensing your medications. We also help local pharmacies diversify their revenue outside of dispensing with clinical services through MakoRx Care Connect. With MakoRx, you can benefit from cost-plus drug pricing and in-pharmacy services like urgent care and point-of-care testing. Sign up with MakoRx today and start experiencing a new standard in healthcare accessibility and convenience.

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