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BETTER HEALTH PHARMACY AWARDED $50,000
BY EL CAMINO HOSPITAL/HEALTH CARE DISTRICT
SAN JOSE – Santa Clara County’s Better Health
Pharmacy was awarded $50,000 by the El Camino Hospital & El Camino
Healthcare District Community Benefit Program it was announced today.
The grant means, “We can help even more county residents
access the drugs they need, absolutely free,” said Joe Simitian, President of
the Board of Supervisors and Chair of the County’s Health and Hospital
Committee. “Kudos and thanks to El Camino.”
Better Health Pharmacy (BHP), California’s first and only
surplus drug redistribution pharmacy, has distributed more than 71,000 free
prescriptions since August 2015, saving County residents $4.5 million in drug
costs, and decreasing the amount of unused medication going into the waste
stream. The programs uses donated drugs under strict protocols to “redirect” unused
“Better Health Pharmacy has demonstrated the critical role
they play in helping low-income individuals access much-needed medications,”
said Barbara Avery, director of community benefit at El Camino Health when
speaking about the decision behind awarding Better Health Pharmacy $50,000. “El
Camino Health is pleased to support Better Health Pharmacy for the second year
in a row and help them expand their capabilities and efforts to improve the
health of our community.”
In 2017, at Simitian’s urging, BHP doubled the amount of
medication dispensed, and service hours have nearly tripled – from 16 to 42
hours a week – since the pharmacy opened its doors.
“Medication is the most
cost-effective method of treating illness and improving health, yet one-fifth
of adults don’t fill their prescriptions because of rising out-of-pocket
costs,” says Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe
Simitian, who has been pushing to safely recycle surplus drugs for more than a
decade. “People shouldn’t have to choose between paying their rent or taking
their meds,” said Simitian.
Patients with a co-pay
of $50 are four times more likely to abandon a prescription at the pharmacy
than patients with a $10 copay, according to research by CVS Pharmacy, in
partnership with Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
And, patients who have
heart disease and cut back on medication are 50 percent more likely to have a
stroke or heart attack, according to a 2011 report from the Mayo Clinic.
Conversely, when medicines are given to patients who otherwise couldn’t afford
them, hospitalization rates decline as much as 42 percent, according to a study
in Pharmacotherapy Journal.
“We’ve got perfectly
good unused medications on one side of town, and we’ve got folks desperately in
need on the other side of town. It makes all the sense in the world to connect
the two, and given its success, expand the program. It’s saving lives, and
saving resources,” Simitian says.
Simitian became a
champion of drug reuse while he was a state legislator. A group of Stanford
medical students developed a “recycling” proposal and submitted it to
Simitian’s “There Oughta Be a Law” contest. Simitian, then a State Senator,
introduced legislation addressing the “Recovery and Reuse of Unused
Prescription Medicines” (SB798), which was adopted in 2005.
by volunteers, including pharmacists as well as pharmacy, college, and high
school students, BHP is “the best-kept secret in the Valley,” says Narinder Singh,
Director of Pharmacy at Santa Clara County. “Through this program, we are able
to provide an incredible service to our community, reduce waste and protect our
Santa Clara County
was the first in the state to launch a surplus drug program, in 2008 at Santa
Clara Valley Medical Center, serving County health facilities. Recognizing the
need for direct consumer access, the Board of Supervisors
funded the remodel of a stand-alone space in San Jose, opening Better Health
Pharmacy in August 2015.
“Better Health Pharmacy is a vital community resource,”
agrees SIRUM Co-Founder Kiah Williams – even for residents with health
the people who skip their prescription drugs, half have insurance, but struggle
with high co-pays or deductibles.” SIRUM (Supporting Initiatives to
Redistribute Unused Medicine) is the non-profit collecting drugs for reuse and
making them available to the County.
Pharmacy really is a pioneer, one that we hope can become a national model,”
Williams adds. “It starts with the comprehensive health care provided at the
county level. Santa Clara County owns the hospital, the trauma center for the
region, and also has a set of outpatient clinics. It makes sense to provide
medication on the front end to avoid emergency room visits and
hospitalizations. It’s all about prevention.”
about the Better Health Pharmacy is available online at betterhealthrx.org.