GOWANDA - The Gowanda Pharmacy is slated for closure this month, but one village resident is finding the circumstances surrounding it a bitter pill to swallow.
Irene Koch expressed her grievances regarding the sale of Gowanda Pharmacy to Rite-Aid and its subsequent stated closure to the village board at its board meeting. According to her, the village board is not the only agency that has heard from her, as she has also sent letters and e-mails to the State Attorney General's Office, State Board of Pharmacy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Justice and the FTC Board of Competition.
Employees of Gowanda Pharmacy were reportedly told during the first week of November that the facility had been sold and would close Nov. 16.
OBSERVER?Photo by Tim Latshaw
The?Gowanda Pharmacy, located at 41 West Main St., Gowanda, is expected to close Nov. 16.
Koch said several states require pharmacies to provide public notice at least 30 days prior to closure so patrons have ample time to consider other options and the transfer of records. Koch did not find such a restriction in New York.
"Apparently, they assume somebody will have the common courtesy to notify the public," Koch said. "Unfortunately, that wasn't the case with the Gowanda Pharmacy. It was a secret well kept, because two weeks prior to the closing date the employees were informed about the sale of the pharmacy. Then word went out to customers - that's how we found out - and then word traveled around town. That's not the right way to do business."
Koch has contacted the New York Board of Pharmacy objecting to what she believes is a lack of regulation providing prescription customers proper word of closure.
"Without official notice, when the news first broke, people assumed it was rumor," Koch said.
Koch is also pursuing her belief that the sale of the Gowanda Pharmacy to Rite-Aid, the only other current pharmacy in town, is a violation of anti-trust codes by intentional creation of a monopoly.
"The owner has a right to sell, but we contend that Rite-Aid is not eligible to make the purchase, because by purchasing the Gowanda Pharmacy and closing it, they become the only pharmacy within a 12-mile radius of the village."
Aside from Rite-Aid's Gowanda location, the closest pharmacies to the village currently exist in North Collins and South Dayton. A general directions search on Google Maps pegs the distance from Gowanda to each neighboring village at about 10 miles and 12 miles, respectively.
It is not certain whether the claim of a fair trade violation would be substantiated in a courtroom setting, but petitions circulating through Gowanda are picking up the signatures of people in support of an investigation.
"I don't know where it's going," Koch said, "but I refuse to be a silent victim and from the looks of the petitions, they refuse to be silent victims."
Koch said she and other supporters would try to have an injunction filed to delay the closing of the pharmacy.
Gowanda Mayor Richard Klancer said he wished to investigate the matter further and make sure facts were in order before making an official statement.
The Gowanda Pharmacy is currently owned by The Care Center. Owner Michael Cave declined official comment on the closing when contacted.
The pharmacy still currently expects to participate in the Gowanda Area Christmas Open House Weekend Nov. 13-14.