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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Community pharmacies defend their right to stay as Vital Plan providers

By The Star Staff

Spokespersons for over 850 community pharmacies supported by the United Retailers Center (CUD) and the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce (PRCC) alleged on Sunday that chain pharmacies Walgreens and CVS are trying to remove them as providers in the government-sponsored Vital Plan.

“It is important to remember that Walgreens was already in the government’s health plan and abandoned it when it did not agree with the rate adjustments made by the government regarding the reimbursements to be received,” said the executive director of Coopharma, Heriberto Ortiz Martínez, in written statements. “These chains simply wanted to impose their tariffs, and when the government did not accept them, they stopped serving all Puerto Ricans, disrupting the service of an entire people,” he added.

“Now that the market is stable, they want to destabilize again a market that is already well served by local entrepreneurs who are much more than the chain pharmacies and operate in municipalities where the big chains do not operate,” Ortiz Martínez denounced.

For his part, the president of Farmacias Aliadas, Carlos Torrado, explained that “our studies show that one out of every five pharmacies in the community will close and hundreds of jobs in this sector will be lost. We urgently call on the Governor, the Secretary of Health, the Secretary of Economic Development, and the Director of ASES not to reverse the public policy that has been in place for 20 years and not to disrupt the patient access that has worked so well.”

The president of the United Retailers Center, Lourdes Aponte Rodríguez, indicated that “the entry of these foreign chains into the Vital Plan would destroy and bankrupt hundreds of pharmacies in the community. We cannot allow them to continue destroying and putting obstacles to the development and growth of our small and medium entrepreneurs. SMEs are the heart that maintains economic activity on the island and leaves their profits here. We support the claim of the community pharmacies so that the system is maintained as it is now and that what has worked so far is not disrupted”.

The coalition as a whole requested that the pharmacy network of the Vital Plan be maintained as it is.

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