Walgreen Co. and Rx Response, an initiative of the pharmaceutical supply system, have teamed up to help ensure patient access to medications after a natural disaster.

Walgreens, Rx Response, Rx Response Pharmacy Status Reporting Tool, PSRT, pharmaceutical supply system, natural disaster, Tim Belka, Erin Mullen, pharmacy, community pharmacies, National Council for Prescription Drug Programs, NCPDP, Emdeon/eRx, Relay Health, disaster relief, Hurricane Isaac, Colorado wildfires, Security Operations Center, Walgreens SOC

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Walgreens, Rx Response aid access to meds after disaster

September 19th, 2012

WASHINGTON – Walgreen Co. and Rx Response, an initiative of the pharmaceutical supply system, have teamed up to help ensure patient access to medications after a natural disaster.

Rx Response — whose partners represent the community pharmacy, drug manufacturing and distribution, and hospital sectors and the American Red Cross — said this week that it worked with Walgreens to enhance the Rx Response Pharmacy Status Reporting Tool (PSRT). An online program, the PSRT enables emergency managers and the public to readily locate open pharmacies in communities impacted by severe weather or other natural disasters.

In partnership with the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP), Emdeon/eRx and Relay Health, the PSRT monitors electronic billing transmissions from pharmacies to insurance processing companies. When a pharmacy is transmitting electronic billing data, it is presumed open and Rx Response posts the pharmacy's location on an interactive map on the Rx Response website.

Walgreens is the first U.S. pharmacy chain to provide status reports on its pharmacies directly to Rx Response, enabling more timely reporting on Walgreens stores able to help serve impacted communities.

The PSRT was most recently deployed in response to Hurricane Isaac, and its enhanced capabilities provided federal, state and local emergency management officials with valuable assistance in the days following the hurricane, according to Rx Response.

"Medications, especially for those with chronic conditions, can be one of the most important health care needs that are difficult to meet in the aftermath of a natural disaster," Tim Belka, director of global security services at Walgreens, said in a statement. "By giving people a place to go for information and critical pharmacy or health care services during a time of crisis, Walgreens and Rx Response can help with disaster relief efforts for impacted communities. As a community health and daily living destination, our stores can also serve as a convenient and centralized aid station during crisis situations."

Rx Response said it developed the PSRT in 2009 when it recognized that state and local emergency managers struggled to report on the availability of health care services during and after emergencies. Rx Response was able to address this challenge by providing quick and reliable insight into the operating status of pharmacies in disaster-affected areas through its PSRT.

"We applaud Walgreens for becoming the first pharmacy to work directly with Rx Response to enhance the value of our Pharmacy Status Reporting Tool," stated Rx Response director Erin Mullen. "Our relationship with Walgreens will also give us a new level of visibility into what citizens impacted by a disaster will be asking of their community pharmacies."

Rx Response added that its relationship with Walgreens is one of several efforts that the nation's largest drug chain has implemented in recent years to aid communities impacted by natural disasters.

For example, earlier this year, Walgreens established its Security Operations Center (SOC) in Deerfield, Ill. The SOC is available 24x7 to assist Walgreens team members with incidents that can affect operations, and it has provided the chain with improved situational awareness and enhanced capabilities to monitor severe weather and other events that may disrupt business operations. That capability proved instrumental recently when Colorado battled widespread wildfires. Staff in the Walgreens SOC were able to track the wildfires and communicate with stores potentially in their path, providing emergency response support such as instructions on emergency closings for pharmacies and how to expedite the ordering of emergency supplies.

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