Special to 1831Galion
Avita Health System has announced the expansion of their pharmacist-led Medication Access Program. Launched in January 2022, the program acquired 1.4 million dollars in free or reduced-cost prescriptions in the first year.
“Our original plan for 2023 was to double the amount of free medication we were able to get to our patients,” explained Brad Schwartz, RPh, Pharmacy Clinical Services Manager, Avita Health System. “In the first three months of the year, we have already surpassed that goal and have acquired 3.5 million dollars’ worth of medications.”
The need for Avita’s Medication Access Program became apparent during the pandemic when patients had less access to sample medications due to lockdowns and restrictions. This led to the discovery that many patients were reliant on samples when they couldn’t afford their more expensive prescriptions and patient assistance programs were being underutilized. Patients who stopped taking their medications were at risk for serious health problems, emergency care, and hospitalization.
“One of our ambulatory care pharmacists, Cari Fink (PharmD, BCACP), was encountering more and more patients in her clinics that would inform her which medications they had stopped taking because of affordability issues or that they had been only using samples, and she knew we had to do something to help,” said Schwartz. “Cari approached the team with the concept for the Medication Access Program and since then we have been offering the service in order to give patients access to the medications that they need to live healthy, normal lives. Removing the stress of not being able to afford your medications is a very rewarding moment for our pharmacists.”
In 2022, over 400 patients were referred to the program. Medications that can be acquired includes inhalers, anticoagulants, insulin, and various prescriptions for diabetes, heart failure, high cholesterol, pulmonary disease, kidney disease, and more.
“Avita’s clinic pharmacists are in a unique position to lead this type of service,” added Schwartz. “Not only do they understand the various prescription insurance programs but also how all of the different patient assistance programs, co-pay cards, and voucher programs work. They combine that with an understanding of how chronic diseases are treated to make a very beneficial service to our patients.”
Avita’s Medication Access Program has access to hundreds of drug manufacturer sponsored assistance programs. Each program has different requirements, but they are all predominately income-based and geared towards brand name medications. A referral is required from a medical provider. The Medication Management Center staff will perform an initial screening to determine if the patient meets the criteria for free or reduced-cost medications. Then a one-on-one appointment will be scheduled with a pharmacist.
“We may find that someone isn’t eligible for one medication’s program, but we can work with their provider to change their therapy to one that will also be effective and that they can access for free,” included Schwartz.
Information about Avita’s Medication Access Program can be obtained by contacting any of their Medication Management Center locations:
Source, Photo: Avita; Pictured above (left to right): Brad Schwartz, RPh; Cari Fink, PharmD, BCACP; Mandy Teeters, PharmD; Tiffany Hill, RPhT