Last independent pharmacy in North Adams will close Wednesday

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NORTH ADAMS — The city's last independent pharmacy will close.

Little's HSC Pharmacy has been sold to CVS Health Corp., owner David Woods confirmed to The Eagle on Friday.

The store will continue to fill prescriptions through Wednesday, its final day, after which customer information will be confidentially transferred to the CVS at the Big Y Shopping Center on Veterans Memorial Drive.

"[Customers] can contact or go into the local store and their information will be there. It will be pretty seamless as far as their ability to get their prescription filled. We've tried to make it as simple as possible," Woods said.CVS Pharmacy spokesperson Michael DeAngelis confirmed the sale."We are working with Little's to ensure that the transition will be seamless for patients and their access to pharmacy care is not interrupted.  We will continue Little's delivery and multi-dose packaging services, and are offering positions to three pharmacy technicians," DeAngelis said. Woods cited the ongoing challenges in the industry in explaining the closure.

"Costs are up and reimbursement is down. Trying to survive in that environment as a stand-alone, independent [pharmacy] has been difficult," Woods said.

Woods owns Little's and Surgimed, a supplier of home medical products located in the same Eagle Street building, but they are separate companies.

With the closure of Little's, Surgimed will expand into Little's former space and "will offer all of the same services and products that we have been, along with adding some new products like residential ramps and Stair Glides," the company assured customers in a Facebook post.

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"Our focus at Surgimed will still remain customer-oriented and we will continue to take care of our customers needs in all of Berkshire County and southern Vermont," the post stated.

Woods' father-in-law, John Little, opened the pharmacy in 1976. Woods bought it from Little over the course of several years beginning in 1995.

North Adams' only other independent pharmacy, Nassif's Pharmacy on Ashland Street, was sold to CVS in 2013, after more than a century in business.

The closure is the latest in an ongoing trend in the industry, which experts say has become increasingly consolidated as companies like CVS continue to proliferate. In 1984, there were 38 independent pharmacies open in the Berkshires, but they slowly faded away.

In 2016, O'Laughlin's Home Care Pharmacy in Dalton closed after it was purchased by Price Chopper.

The closure of Little's leaves only two independent pharmacies operating in the Berkshires — Flynn's Pharmacy and Home Medical Equipment in Pittsfield and the Lenox Village Integrative Pharmacy.

According to a report released last year by the Rural Policy Research Institute, 1,231 independently owned rural pharmacies have closed across the United States since 2003.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.


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