“Redistribution of Unused Prescription Medications”
The presenter for the September Lunch & Learn was Jerry Roesener, a longtime member of Emmaus Lutheran Church. Jerry had a 54-year career as a registered pharmacist, retired, and became the pharmacist volunteer at St. Thomas Free Clinic in Franklin, IN. His topic was “Redistribution of Unused Prescription Medications: Requirements, Restrictions, and Greatest Needs.” If that sounds like a little-known area of medicine, you would be correct.
After a long career Jerry felt the cost of maintaining liability insurance and the continuous education requirements led him to retire. When the St. Thomas clinic had a need for a pharmacist, he saw an area where he could serve and use his experience.
Nationwide there are 1,400 free clinics; one in Johnson County and some in Marion County operating under the name “Gennesaret.” If you wonder why that name was chosen, look up Matthew 14:34-36 or Mark 6:53-56.
St. Thomas clinic is in an Episcopal church that started the clinic in 1996 as a ministry outreach. They served people needing medical assistance but had no insurance or means to pay. The clinic does have a qualification protocol and is only open on Wednesdays from 9:00 am to noon. They serve 8-15 patients a day and have four exam rooms where patients are seen by a doctor and physician assistants who develop a treatment plan.
If the treatment plan requires brand name drugs (expensive) the clinic may not have them, but with proper authorization, drug companies can provide them at no charge. If generic drugs are appropriate, the clinic may have some in stock or can substitute. Technicians at the clinic fill the prescription, label the bottle, and provide them to the patient.
Donations of medications and supplies are verified by the clinic before use. If not applicable for the clinic, the items are passed on the FAME, an organization that deals with patient groups worldwide where regulations may not be as strict. St. Thomas also partners with Johnson County Memorial Hospital (JCMH) to repurpose items like walkers and durable items. Out of date medications and unidentifiable pills are disposed of by the Johnson County Sheriff.
An organization named Direct Relief in Santa Barbara, CA, functions as a wholesale clearing house for drug companies’ oversupplies. They email a list of drugs on hand each week that free clinics can tap into. At time St. Thomas may buy special drugs at cost form JCMH.
St. Thomas routinely uses blood pressure meds, non-controlled pain meds, low dose aspirin, COPD inhalers, eye drops, diabetic supplies, and cholesterol meds. The clinic will take ANY medications or supplies and make use of them or send them to other clinics. They can use ANYTHING that is donated.
The clinic is also a training site for physicians’ assistants in training from Franklin College and Butler University. Although located in Johnson County, southern Marion County residents are not turned away.
Q & A
How to personally disposed of expired meds?
- Mix with used kitty litter and put in trash bag; dispose
- Mix with used coffee grounds in trash bag; dispose
How does St. Thomas verify donated pills?
A pill identifier app on a smart phone or industry publications of pill characteristics. The chemical name is industry identification and the brand name is for marketing purposes.
What about cheaper Canadian drugs?
Canada has a single health care system buyer of large quantities vs. U.S. system of various individual health plans. Drug companies have fraud investigators looking for imitation drugs. India is currently a source of fraudulent drugs.
Submitted by Connie Kalitta (AKA???)