The pharmacy sector is stepping up to help Americans affected by the devastating hurricane in Texas
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has declared a public health emergency in response to Hurricane Harvey.
Ten people have died since the hurricane landed on Friday.
“HHS is taking the necessary measures and has mobilized the resources to provide immediate assistance to those affected by Hurricane Harvey,” said Secretary Price.
“We recognize the gravity of the situation in Texas, and the declaration of a public health emergency will provide additional flexibility and authority to help those who have been impacted by the storm.”
The American Pharmacists Association’s executive vice president and CEO, Thomas E. Menighan, says that pharmacists are coming to the aid of people in the affected areas.
Grocery chain HEB sent a convoy of trucks and supplies from San Antonio, including a mobile pharmacy with pharmacy staff to fill prescriptions.
“They’ll be able to service just like an HEB pharmacy but on the road,” HEB spokesperson Julie Bedingfield told KSAT 12 News.
Meanwhile Walmart has sent mobile pharmacies to Rockport, Portland and Aransas Pass.
The giant also said a pop-up pharmacy has been established at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, with four Walmart stores in the Dallas area fulfilling orders placed through the temporary facility and delivering them to the convention centre.
“Pharmacists from other Walmart locations are coming in to support and offer counsel to customers as they pick up their prescriptions – the same service they would receive in-store,” says Walmart’s blog.
Walmart also made a US$1 million (AUD$1,250,781) commitment to support relief efforts.
Drug Store News reports that CVS Health and CVS Pharmacy have donated US$200,000 (AUD$250,156) in cash and products to organisations helping with the relief effort.
CVS Pharmacy also plans to bring mobile pharmacies into the greater Houston area.
“We want to offer any assistance we can to our customers, colleagues and communities affected by this disaster,” Eileen Howard Boone, SVP corporate social responsibility and philanthropy at CVS Health, and president CVS Health Foundation, told Drug Store News.
“Both CVS Health and the CVS Health Foundation are committed to ensuring that residents hit hard by this disaster have continued access to critical pharmacy care and the non-profit partners, first responders and government agencies leading the relief efforts on the ground have the critical supplies and financial support they need to help those most in need.”
Drug Store News also reports that Walgreens has lent the city of Victoria a generator to stop the local water supply from being affected by sewage backflow.
Debbie Garza, CEO of the Texas Pharmacy Association, told the APhA’s Thomas E. Menighan that the association has received calls from hospitals in the area and are referring people to the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs’ Healthcare Ready Rx Open.
“We are just communicating resources to our members right now,” she told Mr Menighan.
“Everyone is recommending coordination through Red Cross for what is needed.
“We are not coordinating any pharmacist volunteer efforts. The chains are handling their individual company needs, and the different independent groups in Texas are still assessing their members.”
Mr Menighan said that “our hearts and prayers go out to the victims”.
“Our salute and praise go out to the heroes and charities,” he said.