How a pharmacy in Pennsylvania was able to provide more prescriptions than the state could ever afford to deliver
The pharmacy in northeastern Pennsylvania was on a roll.
On Jan. 15, it received 1,000 prescriptions for $4,300, more than enough to cover all the prescriptions it needed for the month, the pharmacy manager told state lawmakers.
A couple of weeks later, the manager announced that he’d be giving away a bottle of iced tea for free to all of the pharmacy’s current patients, including those who hadn’t gotten any prescriptions at all.
By then, it was already one of the largest pharmacies in the state, according to the pharmacy director, John L. Stearns, who declined to reveal the amount of the giveaway.
At the pharmacy, there are several people who want the iced-tea prize, but not everyone wants to be part of the conversation.
One woman, who is a nurse and a former patient, said she had not taken advantage of the promotion.
“I’m not sure if I’d take advantage of it,” she said, explaining that she had been unable to find a physician willing to prescribe her a pill.
“I’ve got a little bit of a chronic disease, and I’m not exactly a drug addict,” she added.
“But there’s just so much I want to do, so many things I want my kids to have, and if I get the pill for free, I want them to get it.
So I just think it’s a great way for me to give back.”
Some of the other people who signed up for the free tea are also not addicts, but they also have chronic conditions, said Liza Johnson, a pharmacy employee who runs a nonprofit that works with the pharmacy to offer free medicine to patients with chronic conditions.
They are more likely to have certain types of conditions, like diabetes or heart disease, that can be difficult to treat, Johnson said.
“And so, I think it was kind of a way to try to reach out and offer that for those people that have been struggling.”
The state’s Medicaid program also offered to reimburse the pharmacy for the $4 and $5 gift cards.
The pharmacy manager said he hoped the giveaway would continue for as long as it was needed.
In response to the challenge, the Pennsylvania Department of Public Health issued a statement, saying it was committed to expanding access to medication.
“This is just the beginning of a new initiative that we are creating to increase access to prescription medications to our Medicaid patients, especially those with chronic diseases,” the department said.
To get the free medicine, you can email the pharmacy management at [email protected] or call 1-800-345-4585.