FIU Pharmacy Closing, What Happens Now?

Pills spill out of pill bottle. Jesse Fraga/PantherNOW.

Jesse Fraga / Assistant News Director

Those who use the FIU pharmacy are scrambling with less than a week left to fill their prescription needs.

The pharmacy, located in the center of Modesto A. Maidique campus, provided quick access to the university’s medications, leaving “little interruption to your class or work schedule,” the website states.

The pharmacy will be closing its services on Friday, June 4, according to a university-wide email sent out by FIU External Relations on Friday, May 21.

“The university community has enjoyed the services provided by the on-campus pharmacy but, moving forward, the focus will be on ensuring a smooth transition for customers,” read the email.

Members of the FIU’s HealthCare Network told PantherNOW the closure may be attributed to a decrease in use by students, faculty and staff.

The number of those who used the pharmacy has dropped steadily since 2015, when the management organization first developed.

Out of over 58,000 students, only 1,314 patients used the FIU pharmacy in the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Additionally, the total number of patients since 2015 declined by about 75 percent, and prescription fills declined by about 70 percent.

Lucia Fernandez, the project manager of the HealthCare Network, reported the analysis to PantherNOW.

Graphic displays FIU pharmacy total patients and total prescription fills from 2015 to 2021. Graphic by Jesse Fraga/PantherNOW.

The FIU numbers worsened during the pandemic.

“The pharmacy was already struggling [prior to the pandemic]… but it got to the point where I said now we can go ahead and look to see how best we can bring other clinical services to our students,” said Eneida Roldan, the chief executive officer of the HealthCare Network and clinical director of FIU’s COVID-19 vaccination site, campus testing sites and Miami-Dade County testing site at the Fairgrounds. 

She is also an associate dean and professor at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine.

She explained the decline in pharmacy use could be due to an increase in cheaper, more accessible prescriptions at larger pharmacies including Walgreens, Publix and GoodRx.

“People want service, especially in such a situation like COVID,” said Roldan. “So we’re thankful that these pharmacies were able to send them [by mail], and we couldn’t compete with that.”

However, the pharmacy website states, “Prices are very competitive with off campus pharmacies & we are lower in some cases.”

Screenshot of FIU pharmacy website. Screenshot by Jesse Fraga/PantherNOW.

Roldan continued to emphasize how larger pharmacies usually offer cheaper medications, especially for uninsured patients.

However, big pharma prices are only rising, according to a 2019 study by JAMA Network Open. The study found, “costs for popular brand-name drugs would double every seven to eight years.”

April Castillo, a sophomore majoring in computer science at FIU, used the university’s pharmacy for about two years. She is concerned the price difference could delay receiving her medications on time.

“A few bucks can be the difference between getting your medication exactly when you need it, or having to wait until the next paycheck,” said Castillo.

All students are required to pay the student health fee of $93.69 which covers university healthcare facilities including the Student Health Services (SHS), Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), Victim Empowerment Program (VEP), Healthy Living Program (HLP) and Disability Resource Center (DRC).

While the pharmacy is closing, the student health fee is not expected to change.

Roldan explained the funds previously allocated to the pharmacy will now benefit other campus health initiatives including Pharma Boxes which hold over-the-counter medications, and hiring more nurses at the Academic Health Center.

“[Funds] will be allocated as priorities are identified in collaboration with Student Affairs leadership,” said Elizabeth Bejar, senior vice president of Academic and Student Affairs.

While the decision to stop pharmacy operations is already finalized, some students plan to make their voices heard.

The email did not explain a reason for the closure, which left members of FIU’s Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) concerned about a lack of transparency between university administration and students.

Adam Medina is the president of the YDSA at FIU, and a junior studying mechanical engineering. While he never used the pharmacy himself, he plans to hold a Town Hall meeting to advocate for universal mental health care on campus.

“We want students… to be able to have a dialogue, raising concerns about how the decision was made and how the administration can do better in future endeavors like these,” said Medina. “This is a sufficient enough problem to bring structural change with how transparent the administration is with students.”

He does not yet have details on the event’s date or collaborators.

Additionally, individuals with an active status at the pharmacy were emailed directions on how to ensure continued care. They have until June 4 to either transfer their prescriptions to Walgreens on 1601 SW 107 Ave., Miami, Florida, or to a pharmacy of their choice.

Castillo will be living in Parkview Hall in the Fall semester. She appreciated how close the FIU pharmacy would be to the dorms.

“Sure, [Walgreens] is not too far, but that’s like 20 minutes back and forth, nearly 40 minutes to get your meds,” said Castillo. “That’s a good chunk of time out of your day, it makes a difference.”

For some, a medication could stop a common cold, for Castillo, it makes life easier.

“The medication I did get there was definitely an important part of getting on the road towards a happier, healthier version of who I am,” said Castillo. “It’s not like I won’t be able to take it but… when it was there it was a statement. FIU was like, ‘Yes we care about you using the medication and we’re going to make it more convenient for you.’ And now it feels like they’re going back on that.”


If you have any questions or concerns regarding a current prescription, contact the FIU pharmacy at 305-348-5963. If you do not respond by June 4, you must contact your provider for further assistance.

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