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UTEP’s Student Government Association comes up with plan to keep on-campus pharmacy open

The University of Texas at El Paso plans on closing its on-campus pharmacy at the end of the semester.

The school said the pharmacy is under utilized and is unable to break even.

Dr. Shafik Dharamsi, the dean of the College of Health Sciences, said in a statement released to ABC-7:

“We have made the very difficult decision to close the pharmacy at the UTEP Student Health and Wellness Center,” Dharamsi said. “Fewer than six percent of UTEP students access pharmacy services. It would be irresponsible to continue using student health and wellness center fee funds to heavily subsidize this service.”

But it’s a service that UTEP Student Government Association (SGA) President Cristian Botello said is very important for the students it serves.

“Here at UTEP we have a certain demand for antibiotics, antivirals, birth control. Compared to Walgreens and CVS, I know that they are low cost, and that’s why students use it,” Botello said.

The SGA has come up with a proposal to keep the pharmacy open. UTEP currently has a full-time pharmacist that earns a salary of close to $113,000. Botello said their proposal would be to only have a part-time pharmacist which he said would lower costs significantly.

“We’re doing our best to fight and overturn this decision,” Botello said.

When ABC-7 was on campus on Monday, several students told us they were not aware that the school had a pharmacy. But those that have used it said it’s a valuable asset to have.

“They were actually very affordable and what not. It’s pretty bad that they’re closing down because students in the future won’t have this kind of access to this resource and they might need it,” student Antton Robinson said. “It’s a lot cheaper.”

Student Pedro Martinez said he prefers it to commercial pharmacies.

“When I was there, it was one-on-one. It was very personalized. They actually paid a little more attention than if I had gone to somewhere else,” Martinez said.

Botello said UTEP officials told SGA to conduct a survey to see how students felt about the decision to close the pharmacy. He said SGA surveyed about 100 people, and it’s compiling the results to present to UTEP’s leaders.

The pharmacy is set to close on Dec. 14, 2018. Currently each student pays $14.40 per semester for health fees.

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