In a feature for The American Conservative, Stacy Mitchell and Charlie Thaxton look at how independent pharmacies could flourish and multiply, helping to solve the growing problem of healthcare deserts — if only policymakers would stand up to the big players in the drug industry.
“Hold on,” Ben Okafor says when reached by phone one afternoon, “I have to find someone to hold the front desk.”
Okafor has his hands full, as he does most days, running Family Pharmacy, a business heopened five years ago in Eastport, a remote town along the coast of Maine just shy of the Canadian border. The pharmacy, which occupies a former laundromat a few blocks from Eastport’s working waterfront, bustles as Okafor and his staff consult with patients and fill prescriptions.
Before Okafor opened his doors, there hadn’t been a full-service pharmacy in Eastport for more than a decade. Picking up a prescription meant a 40-minute drive, and then a trip back. The community had become a “pharmacy desert,” a term that’s emerged in academic circles to describe an increasingly widespread problem.
(Photo: Coastal Enterprises, Inc./Gabe Sousa)