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Shuttering of pharmacies have begun at stores throughout the Northwest, including in Newberg

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - The pharmacy at the Bi-Mart store in Newberg joined dozens of others across the state in being shuttered.

Bi-Mart announced last week that it is closing its pharmacy departments at all its Portland-metro area stores.

The closure went to affect Nov. 12 at the Newberg Bi-Mart.

A press release issued by Bi-Mart's Vice President of Advertising and Marketing Don Leber indicated that a glutted market, tax considerations and complications with health-care plans were some of the factors in the decision.

"This difficult choice reflects today's challenging pharmacy landscape," Leber said. "Factors that led to this decision include: growing number of pharmacies in the Portland metro market over the past few years; rising fees on Medicare Part D prescriptions by pharmacy benefit managers; restricted access to healthcare plans and the further pressure of the Oregon Corporate Activity Tax that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020 will put on pharmacy operations.

"Despite the great work by the pharmacy staff at our Portland area stores, these conditions have tilted the field to where these pharmacies are unable to operate profitably."

Walgreens® will acquire prescription files from 13 Bi-Mart pharmacy locations and will transfer files to nearby Walgreens locations.

Leber said that employees affected by the closures will be offered positions in other departments or locations where possible.

Those who cannot be placed elsewhere will qualify for a severance package.

"All Portland area Bi-Mart stores will remain open and continue to serve the needs of our members in all other departments," Leber noted.

The stores affected by this change are in Aloha (Beaverton), Damascus, Gresham, Halsey (Portland), Hillsboro, Molalla, Newberg, Oregon City, Sandy, Tigard, Washougal, Woodburn, Woodstock (Portland).

"The pharmacy department is a small part of our overall business in the Portland area, so this decision will allow us to focus on our core business and to continue to provide value to our members," Leber said.

Bi-Mart currently has 79 stores across Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Store officials said the company is planning for further growth in the Northwest and the chain recently opened a store in Port Orchard, Wash., and three new stores in the Boise area.

Work has begun on another store in Rathdrum, Idaho.

In a Facebook post, state Rep. Bill Post pointed to the pressure Bi-Mart faces from the Oregon Corporate Activity Tax as a reason.

He posited that this is the "first of many cuts by local businesses we will see in the months to come due to this new tax."

"This change means fewer jobs in our community and less access to the health care services many of us rely on," Post wrote. "Now folks in Newberg will have even fewer choices for their pharmacy needs. I am not blaming Bi-Mart at all, this is due to continued 'layering' or 'stacking' of taxes on businesses in Oregon."


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