Wayne State forces out pharmacy that serves thousands of students, staff and Detroiters

University Pharmacy on Wayne State University campus is being forced to close. Photo by Steve Neavling.

Wayne State University is forcing the closure of a unique campus pharmacy that provides numerous health and wellness services to more than 10,000 students, faculty and Detroiters a year – and the administration refuses to say why.

University Pharmacy owner Maria Young said WSU officials failed to give her an explanation for why she must vacate the campus-owned building by Thursday, other than to say, “We don’t need a pharmacy on campus.” Young said the university wouldn’t divulge their plans for the building at 5254 Anthony Wayne Drive. 

At first, Young broke down in tears. Since opening the pharmacy in 2008, she has expanded her services to include immunizations, health screenings, HIV testing, geriatric medicine and support for diet, exercise and smoking cessation.

The independently owned pharmacy also has teamed up with the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Services to host flu clinics and screenings for cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure for Wayne States’s Wellness Warriors, a nationally recognized initiative for staff and faculty.

In 2008 and 2009, Young helped immunize more than 2,000 people against the H1N1 influenza virus.

Young’s mission also includes helping students and others find ways to save money on health care costs.

“My goal was to improves lives, not just dispense pills,” Young, a licensed pharmacist, told me, adding that the pharmacy doesn’t sell opioids. “I truly believe in my job. We’re trying to save lives.”

University officials declined to comment over the weekend but told us they would respond Monday.

Young, who spent $250,000 renovating the pharmacy since 2008, said the university tried in vain to get her to sign a gag order that would prevent her from speaking out about the eviction. 

She is worried about the impact on students, faculty and Detroiters, who have come to rely on the pharmacy for important health and wellness services.

The flu season is coming in three weeks, and she is concerned about an outbreak if students don’t have easy access to immunizations.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.