LITTLE ROCK — Walgreens, which purchased the Little Rock-based USA Drug regional pharmacy chain earlier this summer, has informed employees at more than half of the USA Drug stores across Arkansas that the operations will close and they will lose their jobs by November, according to a Walgreens spokesman.

Jim Graham, senior manager for media relations with Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens, said he did not know how many employees would be affected when 27 of the 46 USA Drug stores in Arkansas close but that they would be "given priority status when interviewing for open positions."

Of the stores to be closed in Arkansas, five are in Little Rock, four in Hot Springs, two each in North Little Rock and Fayetteville, and one each in Benton, Bentonville, Forrest City, Harrison, Jonesboro, Malvern, Newport, Paragould, Rogers, Russellville, Searcy, Sherwood, Siloam Springs and Springdale.

USA Drug has nearly 1,350 employees in the state. Graham said employees at 76 USA Drug and affiliated stores in six states also have been told their stores will be closing.

Walgreens announced in July that it would buy Stephen L. LaFrance Holdings Inc.’s regional drugstore chain, which includes USA Drug and Super D Drug stores.

The $438 million deal, which is expected to be finalized later this month, includes the purchase of 144 drugstores currently operated by USA Drug, Super D Drug, May’s Drug, Med-X and Drug Warehouse in Arkansas and six other states.

Along with the stores, the deal includes corporate offices, a distribution center in Pine Bluff and a wholesale and private brand business.

Graham said the decision to close the stores was made after careful planning and market analysis.

"Our decision about store closures are based on a number of considerations, including size of the market and proximity to other Walgreens and USA Drug stores and affiliates," he said.

As part of the closures, Graham said, customers are being notified of the location of a nearby Walgreens or USA Drug-affiliated store where their prescription information will be transferred.

"No other action is needed to pharmacy customers to have their existing prescriptions filled at any Walgreens store," he said.

Walgreens is the nation’s largest drug chain and last year had sales of $72 billion. The company operates 7,890 drug stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

USA Drug and the other drugstores in the chain recorded sales of $825 million last year, according to a Walgreens news release.