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Representative Charlie Brown’s pharmacy desert study bill passes through Indiana House

Efforts by Representative Charlie Brown (D-Gary) to draw greater attention to the rising numbers of pharmacy deserts across Indiana have drawn support from his colleagues in the House.

House Bill 1382 urges the Legislature to study ways to eliminate pharmacy deserts across Indiana.

“There has been a lot of attention in recent years about the problems created by food deserts where people have little or no access to healthy foods,” Rep. Brown said. “It is just as disconcerting to me that there is another kind of desert out there: one that limits access to the prescription drugs we need to stay healthy and alive.

“There is currently only one pharmacy in the Miller area of Gary, and people are struggling to access their medications due to lack of transportation,” he continued. “A study committee will be able to help research the issue further and come up with resolutions for the lack of pharmacies in rural and urban areas across Indiana.”

A pharmacy desert is an underserved area where access to a pharmacy is limited by:

  • At least 25 percent of the households in a rural town or urban neighborhood are living below the federal income poverty level.
  • The median family income of these residents is not more than 80 percent of the median family income of Indiana.
  • A rural town, metropolitan census tract, or urban neighborhood in which at least 500 residents or at least 33 percent of the population lives more than one mile from a pharmacy.
  • A nonmetropolitan census tract in which at least 500 residents or at least 33 percent of the population lives more than ten miles from a pharmacy.

The study committee will have the ability to identify effective solutions for the pharmacy based deserts and identify sources of revenue to finance a pharmacy desert program.

“Everyone deserves to have proper access to their medications, and with nearly 70 percent of Americans on at least one prescription drug, establishing this study committee will help ensure that all of our constituents have proper access to their medications,” Rep. Brown said.

The measure now moves to the Senate for further action.


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