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Former Bryson City Pharmacy CEO speaks out after Walgreens sale, profitability struggles


The former independent pharmacy President and CEO is speaking out after selling his patient profiles and drug inventory to Walgreens.


Michael Spinn owned and operated Bryson City Pharmacy for 19 years as well as Robbinsville Pharmacy for 13 years.


They closed within five days of each other in December.

"I wish I could have continued to operate these pharmacies for decades to come," Spinn said. "I loved our customers; they were wonderful."

Garrett Lagan said it caught everyone off guard.


"It saddens me," Spinn said about the pharmacy closures. "I understand their point of view and I understand their concerns, I truly do, and I'm so sorry this has happened, but I really don't have an answer what to do. I would be in this same scenario in a year from now."

So, what happened?


According to Spinn, fees totaling nearly a million dollars annually made it impossible for the business to survive long-term.


"We had our biggest sales that we ever had and we've had our worst profitability that we've ever had," he said. "I even had prescriptions that I would fill and I would have underwater claims. The amount that they would reimburse me would be less than, actually, what I would be paid."


Spinn explained how that's possible.


"You don't see my pharmacy on stadiums," he said. "You don't see my pharmacy sitting on big skyscraper buildings. You see these big insurance companies -- they're called PBMs -- that are controlling the game."


In a Dec. 14 letter from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency, stated, in part:


“We are hearing an increasing number of concerns about certain practices by some plans and Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PMBs) that threaten the sustainability of many pharmacies, impede access to care, and put increased burden on health care providers CMS is concerned about the sustainability of these businesses, especially small and independent pharmacies, and their potential closures that may leave pharmacy services out of reach for many people, especially those in rural and underserved areas.”


The closure of Bryson City Pharmacy left Walgreens as the only player in town, prompting Lagan to create a petition asking North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein’s Office to see if any antitrust laws are being broken.


Stein’s office responded with this statement:

“Our office is concerned about this issue and believes competition is critical in health care. We will be taking a look at this transaction.”


In a statement provided to News 13 last week, Walgreens said they look forward to providing former Bryson City and Robbinsville Pharmacies customers with greater access to pharmacy and healthcare services.


Reporter: Justin Berger


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