Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced today that after an investigation by his office, Walgreens, the second largest drug store chain in the country, agreed to buy fewer Rite Aid stores than they initially planned, calling the change a victory for consumers and competition.
In a press release, Schneiderman said that Walgreens would buy 272 Rite Aid stores in New York, instead of the 456 stores that Walgreens originally planned to purchase as part of a nationwide expansion and merger announced in June.
"Vigorous competition between pharmacy chains keeps down the cost of filling a prescription, which benefits New York consumers and businesses by preserving choice and keeping costs low," Schneiderman said in the press release. "We'll continue to keep close tabs on consolidation in the retail pharmacy space to ensure New Yorkers get the lower prices, greater choices, and better service they deserve."
Outside of Manhattan, Rite Aid, the third-largest drug store chain in the country, was found to be the most common chain drugstore around in the city, and with the restructuring that Schneiderman announced, it won't be completely disappearing from the metropolitan landscape. As a result of the restructured takeover, Rite Aid will still operate 327 stores in New York state, according to Schneiderman.
Walgreens had already bought Duane Reade for $1 billion in 2010, though Duane Reade stores kept their names after the merger. In last year's State of the Chains, the annual count of how many chain stores operate in New York City, the Center for An Urban Future found that there were 303 Duane Reade/Walgreens in New York City, and 185 Rite Aids at the end of 2016.
Independently-owned pharmacies are increasingly struggling to stay afloat, due to the chains' increasing ubiquity and NYC's high rents. RIP Kings Pharmacy.