Plan for new pharmacy in Tenderloin irks community 

Tenderloin residents are battling plans for a new pharmacy that will be located where illegal street sales of prescription pills run rampant.

An investigation by The Examiner confirmed that prescription pills — including Percodan, OxyContin and Vicodin — are openly sold by dozens of drug dealers, particularly along Leavenworth Street between Golden Gate Avenue and Turk Street.

Meanwhile, plans are in the works to add a community pharmacy at 281 Turk St., an idea that concerns the Police Department’s top brass.

“Everybody who knows about it is nervous,” said Shaughn Morgan, who manages two residential buildings in the area with a total 143 units. One property neighbors the planned pharmacy.

There’s concern that patients leaving the pharmacy could get robbed or that they might sell some of their prescriptions to dealers or users, Tenderloin Police Station Capt. Joe Garrity said publicly last week.

Police Chief George Gascón expressed concern about policing pharmacies. He said an existing pharmacy on Golden Gate Avenue looks “like a check-cashing place,” and called for sending undercover officers with fake prescriptions into pharmacies.

Guy Forte, the longtime Seattle pharmacist who’s planning to open the business at 281 Turk St., said he would specialize in HIV services and would be customer-friendly and community-oriented.

“You can come to the counter and touch the person that’s waiting on you,” he said in response to questions about the type of business he will operate.

The pharmacy won’t open for a minimum of six months due to pending licensing and insurance processes, Forte said. He said he wants to do for the neighborhood what he’s done in Seattle: Provide a service the community direly needs. After considering opening in the Castro district, he said he noted the Tenderloin’s lack of pharmacies.

“If I didn’t believe I can have a positive influence down there, I wouldn’t do it,” Forte said.

Security personnel, alarm systems and other safeguards will protect employees and secure drugs, he said.

“I don’t supply people that are selling medication,” Forte said. “I have a lot of experience in this area.”

Morgan, the manager for Housing Corp. Inc., said the pharmacist doesn’t know the neighborhood well enough.

The time period in which residents can appeal the planned pharmacy has closed. However, the Board of Appeals will decide at a hearing today whether to allow Morgan to appeal.

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