In a disconcerting update on Target’s store-closing catastrophe in Canada, another problem has just emerged: many of the Target locations had brought franchised pharmacists into the stores, and now that every store is being closed, Target is forcing those pharmacists to sell their own businesses at absurdly low prices to rival chain store Walmart.
And what’s even worse — thousands of patient health records, once belonging to these Target pharmacies, now seem to be hanging in limbo, waiting to be sold to the highest bidder.
When U.S.-based Target decided to close all of its 133 Canadian stores at the beginning of 2015, it’s safe to say that no one was surprised. The company, which has chain stores all across the U.S. and is very successful in the American market, had been struggling to find its footing with Canadian consumers, and eventually filed for bankruptcy on January 15.
The franchised Target pharmacies, according to the International Business Times, were never included in the bankruptcy agreement, and therefore aren’t protected from debt collectors like Target is.
Target has stated that it wants to close every store by May 15 — at the very latest — but it’s forcing the franchised pharmacists to close their doors even earlier. Many of these pharmacies are still thousands of dollars in debt after opening new stores for Target, and without incomes or legal protection from the court, these stores have no way to repay their debts.
So, the only choice left appears to be selling their patients’ records to other pharmacies — and to do so far below the normal market price. The Huffington Post states that these pharmacies will likely sell databases to competitors for about $1-2 per file, whereas the going rate is around $17 per file.
Although the practice of selling patient records is actually fairly common in the pharmacy industry, analysts predict that Canadians will feel very uncomfortable hearing this — primarily because they don’t understand that records are “sold” for the purpose of saving patient information, even when a pharmacy closes.
Although this situation doesn’t endanger the security of patient health records, it certainly puts a lot of stress on patients, who now have to find new pharmacists, and on the pharmacists themselves, who have to build up new businesses while paying off debts for a company that has abandoned them.