If you’ve never heard of a non-profit pharmacy, that’s ok – there are only three of them in the country. Non-profit pharmacies can charge lower prices because they don’t have to realize profits for shareholders or owners.
One such pharmacy, Community First Pharmacy, located in Hamilton, OH, has recently been praised for putting its customers ahead of profits. According to coverage in Daily Dayton News, one of the biggest hurdles is getting customers in the door, as many folks are under the wrong impression that the pharmacy only serves the uninsured or under-insured. That is not the case – Community First Pharmacy maintains two separate inventories, one for private-pay patients and one for uninsured and underinsured patients who need assistance with medication payment. The pharmacy also receives steeply discounted drugs by participating in the 340b program, a federal program open to non-profit healthcare organizations.
Overall, this system allows the pharmacy to profit from privately insured customers while offering low prices to those who could not otherwise afford their medicine. For instance, the pharmacy can match the popular $4/month plans found at retailers like Target or Walmart, or even offer a lower price, without having to make up the lost profit by marking up other drugs. One patient only paid $1.20 to get his prescription filled!
I couldn’t find much information on the other two non-profit pharmacies in the country. Pharmacy Over the Rhine, located in Cincinnati, OH, serves local residents who often found it difficult get to actually get to a pharmacy, due to transportation or work issues. Like Community First, Pharmacy Over the Rhine serves anyone and is able to put profits on some medications toward lower costs for Americans who are struggling with their prescription bills.
I’m glad that these pharmacies are offering low-cost medication to those who need it most, and, in the case of Pharmacy Over the Rhine, providing accessibility to those who need it. Local pharmacies are struggling to stay afloat these days, and perhaps the non-profit model will be the wave of the future that lets them compete and serve their communities.