This past Wednesday, GOOD Morning Wilton broke the shocking news that Lang’s Pharmacy would close both its Wilton and Weston locations by the end of that day. Multiple employees confirmed the news publicly, telling customers that the independent pharmacy had been sold to CVS and all their prescriptions would be transferred to the pharma giant.
Thursday, less than 24-hours after our story hit, the former Lang’s storefront in at 28 Center St. in Wilton Center already showed the signs of the abrupt closing. The letters of the sign that spelled ‘pharmacy’ had already been removed from the building; what’s more, multiple posters in bright, CVS-red signs with the CVS logo had been affixed to the front of the store, announcing that the the pharmacy had closed and that customers could fill prescriptions at–you guessed it–CVS.
The news came from without any announcement or confirmation by Lang’s owners–until late Thursday night, when they broke their silence by posting a statement on Facebook. They wrote that they were closing Lang’s “with a heavy heart.” They blamed unfair industry practice, where large pharmaceutical corporations were responsible for putting small independent pharmacies out of business.
“It is with a heavy heart that we are closing Lang’s Pharmacy. After years of struggling with unfair business practices by the insurance providers/pharmacy benefit managers (PBM’s), it has become difficult to justify renewing our lease. The PBM’s have been relentless at requiring our customers to use their own retail stores and/or mail order services by not covering their insurance at independent pharmacies like Lang’s. In addition, the PBM’s refuse to reimburse us enough to cover the cost of purchasing the drugs, which forced us to take a loss on many of the prescriptions we did fill. We have worked directly with senators, lobbyists, and members of Congress to enable change but to no avail. Unfortunately, more than ten percent of Connecticut’s independent pharmacies have closed in the past year.”
The issues to which they refer in the post are delved into more deeply in a recent NY Times article, “How Chaos at Chain Pharmacies Is Putting Patients at Risk.” It’s a disturbing look at how time-strapped pharmacists working at short-staffed chain pharmacies have allegedly made mistakes that endangered patients, as well as at larger issues industry-wide. The primary chain discussed in the article is CVS.
It was the pharmacist at Lang’s who mentioned the NY Times article when GMW stopped by the store on Wednesday, shortly before the doors closed for good. She suggested that reading it illuminate the problems pervasive in the industry–and at work in the situation faced by little-guy Lang’s in the winless-fight against the big guys like CVS.
The Lang’s owners allude to this in the last part of their Facebook post:
“The staff at Lang’s has worked hard to create a legacy of exceptional service and patient care. To stay open would require substantial cuts in staff and resources, which would significantly reduce the standard of service we provide. That is not how we wish to be remembered. Thank you for your patronage. Please know that no one will miss Lang’s more than we will.”