Business has slumped at Huber Discount Drugs in Delray Beach, Fla., after it was widely reported that suspected Sept. 11 terrorists sought treatment at the pharmacy.
Hard times have hit Huber Discount Drugs following news reports that suspected terrorists had sought treatment at the independent pharmacy in Delray Beach, Fla., in the weeks prior to the Sept. 11 attacks on New York City and the Pentagon.
The media circus and fear of terrorists and anthrax among an elderly clientele have combined to hurt Hubers business. And pharmacist Gregg Chatterton now wishes that he had never revealed that he had counseled Mohamed Atta, who had inflamed hands, and Marwan Al-Shehhi, who complained of a cough. The two have been identified as hijackers of the airplanes that crashed into the World Trade Center.
"Weve gotten to the point where weve had to stop all conversation about it because its starting to build too much fear in our senior citizens," Chatterton told Drug Topics. "They think if they come into our store, theyre going to get anthrax. It was a business decision that had to be made."
While Chatterton declined to discuss his experiences, it was reported earlier that he had approached a man he later identified as Atta in the pharmacy with an offer of assistance. He tried to find out where the man worked to figure out why his hands were inflamed and then suggested a cream that might treat the problem. Al-Shehhi reportedly pointed to his chest and complained of a cough. The pharmacist suggested a cough remedy and advised the man to see a doctor if he had a fever. One of the men later returned with a prescription for an unidentified antibiotic.
When the media got wind that Chatterton had talked to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his encounter with Atta and Al-Shehhi, reporters made a beeline for the pharmacy. And the uproar has been driving the usual elderly clientele away.
"It just got so crazy, it became a circus around here," Chatterton said. "It got to the point where it disrupted our business and started scaring our customers. They would come in, see all the reporters, and leave. Were a small business struggling against the big giants. The last thing we want is somebody to come in and then leave because they dont trust coming into our store."
Chatterton has also seen the medias ugly side, as mainstream reporters have used all manner of tricks to gain access. "Theyve tried everything to get into our pharmacy, from making believe theyre buying prescriptions to standing around to calling for prices, but theyre not really interested in prices. Im sorry I cant say more, but statistics are showing this is taking a bad turn for us. We had to stop talking about it."
Carol Ukens. Florida pharmacy hurt by terrorist fear.