Belmont pharmacy shuts down after 54 years

April 1, 2011 3:22:36 PM PDT
Jerry Calander closed up shop on Friday. His pharmacy had been around for 54 years. The anchor to a small shopping mall in the hills of Belmont was gone. The pharmacy prided itself on good service. Jerry, his wife Rose and his brother Steve knew the first names of their customers, many of whom had been shopping there for decades.

As the liquidators packed what was left of the gift items and calling cards and loaded the boxes into moving vans, customers lamented the demise of the last independent pharmacy in town.

"What a shame," Gwen Layritz , a regular for the past decade said. "I'm going to miss all the years of personal attention they've given me."

Calander says the insurance companies did him in. He explains that they've cut over the years what pharmacists can make. With drug costs increasing, insurance companies did not raise their reimbursements to pharmacists.

"Let's say I buy an $800 drug," said Calander by way of example. "Before I was reimbursed maybe $100 by the insurance companies and today, it would be $10."

Calander says he just couldn't pay the bills anymore. He added that most of his customers now buy prescription medication by mail, since many health insurance policies require that. In fact, he told his landlord, "If you give me zero rent, I still couldn't make it."

The California Pharmacy Association echoes what Calander says. They told ABC7 News it's happening all over. Independent pharmacies are closing their doors because the reimbursements just haven't kept up with the rising costs of drugs.

The big pharmacy stores like Walgreens and CVS stay in business because of the volume of sales of other goods in their stores.

Calander's Carlmont Pharmacy was too small to keep that kind of inventory. Two other independents closed years ago in Belmont for the same reasons.

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