Pharmacy redistributes unwanted medicines, for free


Better health pharmacy

A new pharmacy in San Jose, California, is set to redistribute surplus medicines to consumers – at no cost.

The Better Health Pharmacy is the first in California dedicated to collecting and dispensing unused, unopened and unexpired medicines from state-regulated facilities to patients, for free. Similar programs have been successful in other US states.

The medication repository program was started in Santa Clara County in 2008, and until recently was run from the Public Health Department Pharmacy in San Jose. Thanks to funding from the county’s Board of Supervisors, the program was able to remodel an office space in the city’s downtown area into a modern, fully-functional pharmacy.

From an origin serving only the Santa Clara County Health and Hospital System facilities, the program grew to a 16-hours-a-week service operated by nine volunteers.

Since its inception the program has dispensed more than 8,700 prescriptions, creating savings of more than $400,000.

“When this program started we were storing donated medications wherever we could find the space,” says pharmacist-in-charge, Khanh Pham.

“We now have room to store and dispense a wider variety of medications.

“We hope this will help us serve more county residents at this pharmacy.”

The pharmacy will accept any valid prescription, serving patients who cannot afford their medicines.

About 23% of US adults report missing a dose or skipping prescriptions due to cost; this is associated with poorer health outcomes. Meanwhile, unused medications cause harm to the environment, ending up in air and waterways.

Image: Better health pharmacy

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