Viewpoint: Help your patients see their meds

January 23, 2006

As owners of independent pharmacies, we are constantly seeking newservices to make things easier for our customers. This is why wewere instantly receptive to a suggestion that was brought to us bythe Macula Vision Research Foundation (MVRF), a nationalorganization based in West Conshohocken, Pa. MVRF approached eachof us to suggest that we offer large-print labels for prescriptionmedications.

Many of our patients suffer from challenged eyesight, and a large-print label may enable them to manage their medications independently. As far as any of us knew, this simple program had not been implemented anywhere before, and we believed it could make such an enormous difference to so many people.

More than 14 million Americans suffer from visual impairment, and more than two-thirds of these people are older than 65. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of adult blindness over the age of 60, and this number is growing quickly. These older adults frequently take many different medications to manage multiple illnesses, and information about medication is critical to the success of their treatments.

Making it work

Together we contacted Louis Greenberg, president of Health Business Systems, our software provider. He, too, saw the great promise of a program such as this one and suggested we share it with all members of our independent buying groups. By involving these groups, Keystone Pharmacy Purchasing Alliance and Independent Pharmacies Buying Group, as well as working with another software provider, Applied Microsystems, we could extend the reach of this program to other independent stores like ours. As a network, we have access to nearly 1,500 stores nationwide. Our plan was to launch the program in Philadelphia and then introduce it to our counterparts elsewhere.

Greenberg worked with us to confirm that our printers and other software could support the large-print labels. With his counsel, we each purchased a new printer that was dedicated to producing these large labels. We wanted to offer this program free of charge to anyone who needed it and were willing to make the necessary investments to make it happen. As it turned out, it was simple, and our expenses were very minimal.

Positive results

We have gotten an overwhelming response to this program, and more people than we ever dreamed have been requesting that their prescription materials be supplied in large print. We have dispensed hundreds of large-print labels in the year since we launched the program. Working with MVRF, we are beginning efforts to roll this program out to other states this year.

Role of MVRF

MVRF approached us with the idea to initiate the program in the spring of 2004. The foundation created large-print countertop signs to alert our customers to the new program, which is free and available to everyone upon request. MVRF also conducted a regional media campaign that attracted attention from our local newspapers and television stations.

MVRF runs a national network of support groups for people with macular degeneration. Called SupportSight, these groups, located in 23 cities nationwide, have reached more than 12,000 people to date.

For information about offering large-print labels in your independent pharmacy, please contact the Macula Vision Research Foundation at 1-(866) 462-2852 or visit its Web site at http://www.mvrf.org/.

Jerry Neff is owner and pharmacist, Babis Pharmacy, in Merion, Pa. He can be reached at (610) 664-4815. Jerry Segal is owner and pharmacist, Buckley Pharmacy, in King of Prussia, Pa. He can be reached at (610) 265-0330.