Research Alert: August 22, 2022

Rural and Urban Pharmacy Presence – Pharmacy Deserts

The purpose of this brief is to examine the availability of community pharmacies and their provided services in rural areas of the U.S. The brief also provides a deeper analysis of counties with no retail pharmacies (i.e., pharmacy deserts) based on metropolitan/nonmetropolitan locations.

In 2021, there were 138 counties with no retail pharmacy, including 101 noncore, 15 micropolitan, and 22 metropolitan counties. By most measures, the proportion of the population considered vulnerable, including nonwhite, uninsured, unemployed, and income below the federal poverty level, is higher in noncore counties with no retail pharmacies than in other counties with no retail pharmacies. Further, the percent of population aged 65 and older and the percent aged 85 and older are higher in noncore and micropolitan counties with no pharmacy than in metropolitan counties.

Despite the possibility of using telepharmacy to improve access to health services in medically underserved regions, only around half of U.S. states have passed legislation authorizing telepharmacy.

Contact Information:

Keith J. Mueller, PhD
RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis
Phone: 319.384.3832

Additional Resources of Interest: