Lang's Pharmacy closes in Wilton and Weston

Lang’s Pharmacy in Wilton has closed it doors. Its last day of operation was Wednesday, Feb. 12.

Located at 28 Center Street in Wilton Center, Lang’s also closed its pharmacy in Weston the same day.

The closings were sudden and unannounced. Customers calling Lang’s Pharmacy got a recording saying it is now “CVS Pharmacy.”

The following day, the doors to Lang’s Pharmacy in Wilton were closed and letters on the building spelling out “Lang’s Pharmacy” were partially removed.

A red and white sign on the front door says, “This pharmacy has closed. You may visit any CVS Pharmacy location to fill your next prescription.”

There has been no official announcement yet that Lang’s Pharmacy was sold to retail chain CVS Pharmacy.

An independent pharmacy, Lang’s was owned by Frank Randazzo and Peter D’Aprile. It opened its Wilton location in March 2017. At that time, CVS was operating its store at 93 Old Ridgefield Road, just down the street from Lang’s.

Reason for closing

Randazzo took to social media to let customers know the circumstances leading to their decision to close.

“It is with a heavy heart that we are closing Lang’s Pharmacy. After years of struggling with unfair business practices by the insurance providers/pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), it has become difficult to justify renewing our lease,” Randazzo said on Facebook.

PBMs are companies that manage prescription drug benefits on behalf of health insurers.

Randazzo said PBMs were relentless at requiring Lang’s customers to use their own retail stores and/or mail order services by not covering their insurance at independent pharmacies like Lang’s.

“In addition, the PBMs refuse to reimburse us enough to cover the cost of purchasing the drugs, which forced us to take a loss on many of the prescriptions we did fill. We have worked directly with senators, lobbyists, and members of Congress to enable change but to no avail,” he said.

He noted that more than 10 percent of Connecticut’s independent pharmacies have closed in the past year.

“The staff at Lang’s has worked hard to create a legacy of exceptional service and patient care,” he said on Facebook. “To stay open would require substantial cuts in staff and resources, which would significantly reduce the standard of service we provide. That is not how we wish to be remembered. Thank you for your patronage. Please know that no one will miss Lang’s more than we will,” he said.

The story about Lang’s closure was posted on the Bulletin’s website and reached Chris Dupre, a pharmacist for 25 years in Gonzales, La., who was also critical of PBMs.

Dupre was featured on a news telecast on WVUE on Nov. 26, 2019, where he and the husband of an ALS patient discovered that CVS/Caremark PBM had charged the patient’s insurance $1,700 for medication that would have cost $170 at an independent pharmacy.

After being called out for the discrepancy, CVS/Caremark blamed the pricing on an error by the issuing pharmacy.

Dupre doesn’t buy that.

Both CVS pharmacies and CVS/Caremark PBM are both owned by parent company CVS Health.

Dupre claims CVS/Caremark PBM is intentionally underpaying independent pharmacies, while overpaying themselves. “The same business starving out the independent then offers to buy the independent out. How ‘nice’ of them,’” he said in an email to the Bulletin.

“CVS/Caremark is screwing the patient, and making excessive profits on U.S. taxpayer money. Sad that these modern day ‘robber barons’ are helping to destroy the healthcare system by siphoning away money that should be used for healthcare,” he added.

Lang’s Pharmacy in Wilton was a member of the Wilton Chamber of Commerce.

“I’m sorry to see them go like this,” said the Chamber’s Executive Director Debra Hanson. “We are part of the concept of shopping local to protect our community and this is the opposite of that. Lang’s was a wonderful store and the people were nice. It will be missed,” she said.

In 2012, the original Lang’s Pharmacy in New Canaan, which had been in operation since the 1960s, closed its doors and was sold to Walgreen’s.