The number of independent (i.e., non-chain) pharmacists in Minnesota has dropped by 20 percent, according to a report by Minnesota Public Radio. Reporter Mark Steil visits with Mel Kroon (above), a pharmacist in Adrian for the past 27 years.

Kroon likes his job and his customers “but he’s tired of fighting what seems like a losing battle against high costs and low profits,” Steil writes. For example, Kroon points to one item — a patch that reduces nausea — that costs his two dollars more for a month’s supply than what the government is willing to pay.

So Kroon closed his shop and Adrian (population 1,200) will be without a pharmacy for the first time in over 130 years. Some rural pharmacists have gone without a vacation for six years — and one Minnesota pharmacist hadn’t paid himself a salary for more than a year.

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