Frazier Park's only pharmacy to reopen with new owner

After being shut down since last November, the only pharmacy in the Frazier Park area is set to reopen. El Tejon Pharmacy owner Ty Stout said he has leased the building, and his goal is getting the Frazier Park site open again by May 1.

"It's sustainable, that's my opinion," Stout told Eyewitness News on Wednesday. "So, we want to be up in Frazier Park helping those folks. It's medically underserved. These folks up there need a pharmacy, so we're working toward that right now."

El Tejon has two locations in Bakersfield, one is on North Chester Ave. and the other on Brundage Lane.

Neighbors in Frazier Park say without a pharmacy in their mountain area, their closest options have been Castaic or Bakersfield. They're thrilled to hear El Tejon will start operating the one near them.

"I think that's wonderful," Lake of the Woods resident Ed Fuchs said. "I've had to go to Bakersfield for my prescriptions. That's 100 miles round trip, and we're on Social Security." Fuchs said it's cost them extra for gas, and it's cost them extra time.

Steve Lennex said his mother is in her eighties, and they've made weekly trips to Bakersfield for her prescriptions.

"It's been a big hardship," he said. "It's a lot of trips."

Former Frazier Park Pharmacy owner Chuck Rogers told Eyewitness News he just couldn't keep the operation going any more. Rogers said they had been squeezed out, and he blamed the pharmacy benefit managers at insurance companies and employer groups.

"Little by little, the profit margins have gone down so much that either we're filling (the prescriptions) at a loss, or it's barely breaking even," he said in late November.

Stout said El Tejon can make it work in Frazier Park.

"The way you keep a business afloat is to minimize operational costs using technology," he said.

And, Stout said El Tejon already has two high-volume operations in Bakersfield, and they work with "buyer groups" to get the best prices for drugs.

Stout said another key to success is customer service.

He's now waiting for the license from the state Board of Pharmacy for the Frazier Park site. Then he'll apply for various required licenses, and start working on insurance contracting.

As a fellow businessman, Christopher Pasek is also thrilled to see El Tejon will re-open the pharmacy.

"We were really afraid if we had lost this completely forever, it was going to diminish the community as a whole." he said, " because you see a lot of other businesses here that have closed up."

Pasek has a gun shop just across the street from the pharmacy, and admits if it's open again that'll draw more foot traffic and help his business, too.

When the previous owner closed the pharmacy, he had directed customers to the two El Tejon locations in Bakersfield, and Stout said some have come in, he's mailed some prescriptions up to the Frazier Park area, and personally delivered some others.

Some neighbors drove by the still-shuttered pharmacy on Wednesday, and asked a reporter about any update. They were really glad to hear it's going to re-open.

"And I'm glad," Stout said, hearing that. "I'm excited that they're excited."

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