Pharmacies Make It Easier To Take Meds

Oct 04, 2004

By George Anderson

Americans are getting older and with age comes an increase in health problems. The result, for many, is they need a variety of prescription medicines on an ongoing basis.

Another byproduct of aging is memory loss, and pharmacists such as Richard Brisson are finding that making it easier for consumers to remember what medicine to take is a service
valued by drugstore customers.

According to a report by The Boston Globe, Mr. Bisson uses Medicine-on-Time, a system using color-coded and labeled trays to help consumers keep track of their medicines.
The system is similar to the daily pill trays sold at most drugstores with the difference being that the compartments are filled and labeled by the pharmacy.

The reason for the service is obvious, said Mr. Brisson. It makes the process of prescription pill taking easier for consumers. ‘We want to make their lives a little bit simpler,”
he said.

Systems such as Medicine-on-Time have become increasingly popular as the number of medicines consumers take continues to grow. In addition to its sorting function, the automated
system also tracks consumers’ medications to avoid negative interactions.

To drum up customers for his service, Mr. Brisson has hired a sales representative to visit assisted-nursing facilities. To date, 180 people are using the service.

Another independent pharmacist, Bhuren Patel, owner of the Community Pharmacy in Brighton, Mass., claims to have more than 1,000 customers using the prepackaged trays. Most of
these, says Mr. Patel, come from assisted-living facilities.

‘Assisted-living facilities in Massachusetts have almost tripled over the last five years. You almost have a captive audience,” he said. ‘They have three choices. They can
do the medicine on their own. Or if they are not capable of doing that, a family member can pour the medication into a planner. Or they get a prepackaged service like the ones
we provide.”

Gregory Laham, owner of Sullivan’s Pharmacy in Roslindale, Mass., who created his own system for sorting medications for customers, says the reason behind the service is simple,
‘You’ve got to set yourself apart from the chain stores.”

Moderator’s Comment: Are services such as prepackaged prescription medicine trays providing the types of differentiation independent pharmacies need
to compete against the chains? Will personalized service become more important as the population ages or is the real need for lower prescription medicine prices?

Interestingly, at Brooks Pharmacy, a large New England chain drugstore, Daniel Haron, the senior vice president for pharmacy, said Brooks pharmacists can
work with individual customers to help them use pill organizers that are sold in the store. But as far as prepackaged trays, Haron said there is not enough room for the labeling
that Brooks uses on every prescription.

George Anderson – Moderator

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