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March 2, 2024

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Washougal Rite Aid closes doors; company cites cost-cutting measures

Pharmacy chain had operated local store since 2007

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WASHOUGAL — Washougal’s Rite Aid store has closed in an apparent cost-cutting move by its parent company, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year.

In October, Rite Aid Corp. said it would close more than 100 stores across the United States. The announcement about the Washougal store came in November.

A sign posted on the store’s entrance last month informed customers that the store was set to close Tuesday.

Rite Aid Corp. has operated the Washougal store since 2007, when it agreed to a 12-store swap with Longs Drugs.

The company “carefully considers various factors, including business strategy, lease and rent considerations, local business conditions and viability and store performance, in its decision-making,” Rite Aid spokesperson Catherine Carter said.

The sign also informed customers that prescriptions would be transferred to the Safeway next door.

“For our customers, we make every effort to ensure they have access to pharmacy-based health services, whether at another Rite Aid or other nearby pharmacy,” Carter said. “We work to seamlessly transfer their prescriptions to ensure there is no disruption of service.”

Carter also said Rite Aid “strives to transfer (a closed store’s employees) to other Rite Aid locations where possible.”

The company has faced financial and legal challenges this year.

Rite Aid Corp., one of the United States’ largest pharmacy chains, said Oct. 15, that it reached an aggreement with key creditors on financial restructuring to cut its debt. The company’s bankrupcty filing in New Jersey listed $8.6 billion in debts to $7.6 billion in assets.

In March, the United States government sued Rite Aid Corp, accusing the pharmacy chain of missing “red flags” for hundreds of thousands of prescriptions for controlled substances, including opioids.

In a complaint filed in Cleveland federal court, the Department of Justice alleged Rite Aid repeatedly filled prescriptions between May 2014 and June 2019, which were medically unnecessary, for off-label use,or not issued in the usual course of professional practice, according to Reuters.

“The Justice Department is using every tool at our disposal to confront the opioid epidemic that is killing Americans and shattering communities across the country,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

Rite Aid pharmacists were accused of ignoring obvious signs of misuse, including in prescriptions for “trinities,” a combination of opioids, benzodiazepine, and muscle relaxants preferred by drug abusers for their increased euphoric effect, the report stated.

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