88.9% of the US population lives within 5 miles of a community pharmacy

Driving distance is not a predictor of accessibility for those without a car or access to public transportation, according to the investigators.

About 88.9% of the U.S. population lives within 5 miles of a community pharmacy, according to investigators from a nationwide analysis published online in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association.

It used to be a commonly quoted statistic that about 90% of the US population lives within 5 miles of a community pharmacy. However, there has been little evidence to prove the claim.

The study, which was conducted by researchers from the University of California, San Diego and the University of Pittsburgh, is the first national analysis of driving distance to community pharmacies. The results help provide evidence of accessibility to US pharmacies and the services they provide.

“Our study shows that most Americans live near community pharmacies and that community pharmacists can reach large numbers of people. This means pharmacies should be an important part of public health initiatives, like vaccinations, testing and treatment for COVID-19,” said Lucas Berenbrok, PharmD, associate professor of pharmacy and therapeutics at the Pitt School. of Pharmacy, in a statement.

Investigators listed 61,715 community pharmacies in the United States, which included chains, government pharmacies, independent pharmacies and regional franchises.

They took a representative sample of 1% of the US population and mapped the driving distance from the home address to the nearest pharmacy.

“We found that 88.9% of the population lived within 8 km of a community pharmacy, so we were surprised and delighted to find that our analysis was very close to the famous statistic,” Berenbrok said.

The results suggest that a large majority of Americans have access to pharmacies, although the investigators said 5 miles may look different for each individual, adding that driving distance is not a predictor of accessibility to the pharmacy, because not everyone has a car or access to public transport. .

Results showed that although 96.5% of individuals lived within 10 miles of a community pharmacy, only about 48.1% lived within 1 mile of a pharmacy.

Investigators also looked at the type of pharmacies across the United States and found that in cities, about 62.8% were chains, but in rural areas, about 76.5% were franchise or independent pharmacies. .

“Our study demonstrates that community pharmacies, especially those that are independent or franchised, play a major role in access to health care in rural areas,” said Inmaculada Hernandez, PharmD, PhD, associate professor of clinical pharmacy at UC San Diego. statement. “These results highlight the need for reform of the drug reimbursement system to ensure the financial sustainability of these family shops, which are more likely to close than the large chains.”

The results of the analysis also showed that 8.3% of counties in the United States had at least 50% of residents who lived more than 10 miles from a community pharmacy and were located primarily in Alaska, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Investigators hope the results can help improve the availability of pharmacy services in underserved areas.


9 out of 10 Americans live near a community pharmacy. Eurek alert. Press release. July 28, 2022. Accessed August 2, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/960126

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