LITTLE ROCK — Walgreens plans to close more than half of the USA Drug stores in Arkansas when the Deerfield, Ill.-based pharmacy chain completes a $438-million purchase of its former rival later this month.

Walgreens spokesman Jim Graham said Tuesday he did not know how many employees would be affected when 27 of the 46 USA Drug stores in Arkansas close by the end of November, but he said 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.

Graham said 76 USA Drug and affiliated stores in six states will close by the end of November. USA Drug has nearly 1,350 employees in Arkansas.

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 sale 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.

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.