Making it easier to get medicine

Published 9:43 am Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The ribbon cutting of Fruth Pharmacy in downtown Ironton Monday morning not only officially opened the new location for business, but also unofficially expanded a prescription drug program geared toward providing cheaper medication to those who need it.

The 340B Drug Pricing Program enables those who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford quality health insurance, to purchase the medication they require, D.R. Gossett, Ironton Lawrence County Community Action Organization executive director, said.

“The Family Medical Center of Lawrence County is excited to partner with Fruth,” Gossett said. “We think they are the logical place to go if you are trying to find a pharmaceutical home as they understand and participate in the 340B program.”

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Gossett said Fruth is not the only pharmacy in the area that participates in the program, but lauds Fruth because it was its experience and commitment to healthy community that made it possible for the FMC to expand their 340B program.

The FMC has been involved with the program for years, Gossett said. But it is complicated to administer and Fruth’s experience with the rules and regulations boosted the organization’s comfort level to the point of expansion, he said.

“This is really great for us and the people of Lawrence County,” Gossett said. “We focus on the primary care and they focus on the pharmaceutical side.”

The 340B program will not be active at Fruth’s Ironton location until July, Lynne Fruth, Fruth Pharmacy president, said, but Lawrence County customers can get their prescriptions filled under the program at their Proctorville or State Route 141 locations.

Fruth said the program is possible due to the government working with manufacturers of branded medication to get them to either donate or sell at a low cost. She said Fruth got involved with the program early on because the company saw the benefit this program would have for those in the Tri-State region.

“It’s simple. If you can help people afford their medication then they are going to be able to stay on it, and if they can stay on the medication they can be healthier,” Fruth said. “Millions of dollars are being spent in the healthcare system for people being seen in emergency rooms who could have possibly avoided the visit if they were able to afford and stay on their medications.”

Gossett said utilizing the 340B benefits is easy, so long as the person is qualified to receive them. He said all someone needs to do is go to a FMC facility, become a patient and the clinic will determine eligibility. If the person is able to receive 340B he or she will be given a card to show at participating pharmacies for discounted medicine. The clinics take care of the complicated paperwork, Gossett said.

The timing of Fruth’s opening of its new location in downtown Ironton, and FMC’s expansion of their 340B program could not come at a better time for the residents of Lawrence County, Gossett said. He said he expects a surge of people to come forward as word gets out and he, the ILCCAO and FMC are ready to meet it.