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Retailer's program helps address rising health care costs, saving customers more than $284 million
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., June 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Meijer pharmacies marked a major milestone this month when one of the retailer's pharmacists dispensed the 20 millionth free customer prescription through its free prescription program. The program – a first of its kind when launched in October 2006 – has since saved Meijer customers more than $284 million, said Nat Love, vice president of Drug Store for the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer.
"Meijer is a family-owned company committed to meeting the needs of other families. We do this by providing positive solutions to everyday problems, which can include access to necessary medications," Love said. "We began our free prescription program with that in mind, and are pleased that so many families across the Midwest have found it valuable."
The retailer's free prescription program helps ensure the health of families and individuals by enabling Meijer customers, regardless of insurance or co-pay, to have their prescriptions filled. The program began by covering leading oral general antibiotics, with a special focus on the prescriptions most often filled for children. The program expanded over the years by offering free pre-natal vitamins in May 2008, Metformin, the most commonly prescribed drug for type 2 diabetes, in 2010, and the generic substitute for Lipitor®* (atorvastatin calcium), the cholesterol lowering medication, in 2012.
"A free prescription program absolutely plays a valuable role in the care of patients who might not be able to afford their prescription medications," said Michael Klepser, professor and infectious diseases specialist at Ferris State University. "Unfortunately, many patients who cannot afford their medications often do not tell this to their physicians, and therefore do not take the medications. The Meijer program provides a foundation for health across communities and helps ensure that patients fill necessary prescriptions vital to their care or the care of their families."
The most popular free prescription filled at Meijer has been the generic cholesterol lowering medication, which helped grow the program by more than 50 percent last year, Love said. Last year, Meijer pharmacy customers filled 1.75 million atorvastatin calcium prescriptions, followed by more than 1.5 million antibiotics, more than 918,000 Metformin, and more than 518,000 free prenatal vitamin prescriptions.
In addition to the free prescription program, Meijer pharmacies have continued to expand the clinical services they offer customers. In 2013, clinical services, such as immunizations, medication management and health screenings, were up 44 percent. Specially-trained pharmacist care coaches, located in 210 pharmacies in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Kentucky, often work with physicians and patients on an on-going basis to improve the patient's overall health and self-management abilities. The goal is to help patients establish health goals and create a personalized health care action plan that can significantly reduce unnecessary hospitalizations and emergency-room visits.
"We're proud that we've helped millions of families improve their health and wellness without impacting their budgets," Co-Chairman Hank Meijer said. "Providing low-cost solutions for the customers who rely on our pharmacies is part of our commitment to the communities we serve."
* Lipitor® is a registered trademark of Pfizer Ireland Pharmaceuticals.
About Meijer: Meijer is a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer that operates 210 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. As a pioneer of the "one-stop shopping" concept, Meijer stores have evolved through the years to include expanded fresh produce and meat departments, as well as pharmacies, comprehensive electronics departments, garden centers and apparel offerings. For additional information on Meijer, please visit www.meijer.com. Follow Meijer on Twitter @twitter.com/Meijer and @twitter.com/MeijerPR or become a fan at www.facebook.com/meijer.
Joe Hirschmugl, 616-791-3943
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