UCI study first to link disparities and ‘pharmacy deserts’ in California
Tue, 01/12/2021 – 02:30
A study out of the University of California, Irvine (UCI) is the first to examine so-called pharmacy deserts in the state—Los Angeles County, specifically. Such communities are characterized by a lack of reasonable access to pharmacy services, within 1 mile for the purposes of the study. According to the UCI researchers, these neighborhoods frequently have denser populations and are predominantly home to Blacks and Latinos. Vehicle and home ownership also tend to be lower in these areas, they found, while crime and poverty rates are usually higher. “These social determinants of health compound the negative effects of pharmacy shortage through competing needs,” said the study’s first author, Cheryl Wisseh, a health sciences assistant clinical professor of clinical pharmacy practice at UCI. “For example, some residents living below the poverty line may choose to forgo picking up their medications so that they can pay for food, rent and other necessities.” The study also suggests they are not getting the COVID-19 care and services they need, leading to a higher prevalence of infections and associated deaths. Wisseh and her team say residents within Los Angeles County’s pharmacy deserts need innovative community-based interventions to improve access, such as staffing local clinics and other primary care settings with pharmacists. The research is published in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities.