Meijer Inc.'s pharmacy business reached a milestone this month when one of its pharmacists dispensed the 20 millionth script through its free prescription program.

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Meijer fills 20 millionth free prescription

June 19th, 2014

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Meijer Inc.'s pharmacy business reached a milestone this month when one of its pharmacists dispensed the 20 millionth script through its free prescription program.

The supercenter retailer said Thursday that the free prescription program, a first of its kind when launched in October 2006, aims to help customers address rising health care costs.

According to Nat Love, vice president of drug store at Meijer, the program has saved customers more than $284 million since its inception. The retailer operates 210 supercenters and grocery stores, all with pharmacies, in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.

The free prescription program is designed to enable customers, regardless of insurance or co-payment, to have their prescriptions filled, Meijer said. 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 prenatal vitamins in May 2008; metformin, the most commonly prescribed drug for type 2 diabetes, in 2010; and atorvastatin calcium, the generic substitute for the cholesterol-lowering medication Lipitor, in 2012.

"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 in a statement. "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 most popular free prescription filled at Meijer has been the generic cholesterol-lowering medication, which helped grow the program by more than 50 % last year, Love reported. Last year, Meijer pharmacy customers filled 1.75 million free atorvastatin calcium prescriptions, followed by more than 1.5 million antibiotic scripts, more than 918,000 metformin prescriptions and more than 518,000 prenatal vitamin prescriptions.

"A free prescription program absolutely plays a valuable role in the care of patients who might not be able to afford their prescription medications," stated Michael Klepser, professor and infectious diseases specialist at Ferris State University in Michigan. "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."

Meijer added that its pharmacies also have continued to expand their array of clinical services. The company said that last year clinical services such as immunizations, medication management and health screenings were up 44%.

Specially trained pharmacist care coaches in Meijer pharmacies often work with doctors and patients on an ongoing basis to improve the patient's overall health and self-management abilities, the retailer noted. 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," commented co-chairman Hank Meijer. "Providing low-cost solutions for the customers who rely on our pharmacies is part of our commitment to the communities we serve."

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