A sliding-scale medical practice that treats thousands of low-income patients each year now is offering access to low-cost medications at its Akron location.
AxessPointe Community Health Center (formerly Akron Community Health Resources) recently opened an on-site pharmacy within its office in the Arlington Plaza Shopping Center on South Arlington Street.
The on-site pharmacy allows the practice’s doctors and pharmacists to work together to manage patients’ medications while making the drugs more affordable and convenient to obtain, said Dr. Jay Williamson, president of AxessPointe’s board of directors.
“Studies have shown when you centralize it on-site, the outcomes are better,” he said.
The practice held an open house on Wednesday morning to officially celebrate the pharmacy’s launch.
AxessPointe’s status as a federally qualified health center gives it the ability to buy prescription medicine from drug makers at substantially reduced rates for low-income patients.
The federal 340B Drug Pricing Program requires drug manufacturers to sell outpatient drugs to federally qualified health centers and other eligible organizations at steep discounts. Qualifying safety-net pharmacies save an average of 25 to 50 percent on prescription drug purchases, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
All AxessPointe patients are eligible to use the new on-site pharmacy, which also offers a sliding-fee scale based on income for uninsured residents, and accepts insurance for those with coverage, said Magdi Awad, director of pharmaceutical services for AxessPointe and a faculty member at Northeast Ohio Medical University in Rootstown Township.
The pharmacy stocks medications to manage the most common chronic illnesses, including diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and high cholesterol, Awad said. Narcotic medications aren’t available through the on-site pharmacy but can be obtained at a discount through participating area retail stores.
Diabetic supplies, nicotine replacement therapies and some other over-the-counter drugs also are available at discounted rates.
Through the program, diabetics can buy insulin for $15 to $25, Awad said. Typical retail prices for the drugs could be as much as six times higher for uninsured patients.
About 40 percent of the estimated 8,000 patients treated at AxessPointe’s Akron office each year are uninsured, said Dr. Kristine “Kris” Drummond, the organization’s chief executive. Satellite offices in Kent and Barberton see a similar percentage of uninsured patients.
Patients without insurance pay a sliding scale at all three AxessPointe locations, with the poorest paying a minimum of $25 for medical care and $50 for dental visits.
The pharmacy is located in renovated space that previously held the AxessPointe’s medical records before the practice converted to electronic health records.
The project was funded with grants totaling $135,000 from the GAR Foundation, Akron Community Foundation and a philanthropic fund at Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED).
Pharmacy students and residents from NEOMED help staff the pharmacy under the supervision of a pharmacist. The students and staff pharmacists also meet with patients to help them manage their medications and answer questions.
By educating patients about their medications and filling prescriptions before they leave the office, AxessPointe wants to help people stay healthier, Awad said.
Studies have shown as many as 30 to 40 percent of patients nationwide never pick up prescriptions that are called into pharmacies by their doctors’ offices.
“We can make sure by the time you’re out, you have the prescription in hand,” Awad said.
For more information about AxessPointe, call 888-975-9188.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org.