With Hurricane Irene rolling along the East Coast, chain drug retailers are making sure that customers can rely on their neighborhood drug store for their vital medications and key supplies so they can be prepared.

Hurricane Irene, Kerr Drug, CVS/pharmacy, CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, chain drug retailers, drug store, medications, hurricane, hurricane medical kit, Mark Gregory, Scott Baker, pharmacy, prescription record, ICERx.org, In Case of Emergency Prescriptions

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Drug chains prepare customers for Hurricane Irene

August 26th, 2011

NEW YORK – With Hurricane Irene rolling along the East Coast, chain drug retailers are making sure that customers can rely on their neighborhood drug store for their vital medications and key supplies so they can be prepared.

Hurricane Irene is next due to hit the North Carolina coast as a Category 3 storm with winds in excess of 100 miles per hour and heavy rain that's expected to produce flooding inland. If the huge hurricane stays on its current path, it would hit the metropolitan New York area and New England this weekend, at which time it's likely to weaken into a tropical storm, according to meteorologists.

Kerr Drug, with 90 stores throughout North Carolina, said that now is the time to shift from the "what if the storm hits here" mode into the "I'd better get ready, here it comes" mode by assembling a hurricane medical kit.

"The middle of a crisis isn't the time to realize you forgot to fill a prescription or didn't bring the items for basic first aid," Mark Gregory, vice president of pharmacy and government affairs at Kerr Drug, said in a statement. "There should be enough supplies in the emergency kit to last for several days because it's impossible to predict how long an area may be closed down after a storm. That's why it's a good idea to ask your neighborhood pharmacist for help with prescription and over-the-counter medications."

Kerr pharmacists recommend that consumers use a portable, water-tight container for their hurricane medical kit and that it includes the following: prescription medicines and special medical supplies such as glucose monitoring equipment; OTC medicines such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief; children's medicines; several bottles of hand sanitizing gel; allergy medications; personal hygiene supplies; a first aid kit with sterile gloves, sterile dressings and antibiotic wipes to disinfect plus adhesive bandages in several sizes and antibiotic cream; several packs of travel tissues; and copies of health insurance cards and prescriptions, as well as phone numbers of health care providers and health information on chronic health problems.

"It's not time to panic. But it is clearly time to collect medical items for an emergency kit because you can think clearly if you’re not in a hurry," Gregory added. "If you have these basic supplies, you are better prepared to help your loved ones and yourself in an emergency."

CVS/pharmacy said Friday that its stores are making every effort to fill prescriptions before the weekend, as well as to move generators into targeted areas and stock stores with hurricane preparedness items such as water, batteries, flashlights and other products to help in an emergency.

The chain added that it's also preparing to help with hurricane recovery efforts in its communities by planning for water and ice donation events at area stores and keeping in close contact with the American Red Cross to offer support in affected areas as needed in the coming days and weeks.

"Given the weather advisories in effect for the weekend, CVS/pharmacy is taking steps to prepare our stores and assist our customers," stated Scott Baker, senior vice president for internal operations and real estate for CVS/pharmacy.

Meanwhile, Rite Aid Corp. reported late Thursday that its drug stores in areas expected to be impacted by Hurricane Irene have stocked up on supplies to help residents get ready and urge them to plan ahead. The chain said those stores have increased supplies of bottled water, batteries, flashlights, canned foods, first aid items, disposable cameras and other emergency provisions.

Rite Aid noted that the American Red Cross recommends having a seven-day supply of medications and medical supplies such as syringes, hearing aid batteries and glucose testing strips on hand. In addition, the retailer said that it's a good idea to keep a written prescription record (with the patient's name, dosage, and doctor's name and contact information). Evacuees should take that record with them along with all their prescriptions, even if empty, in a waterproof bag. The chain also pointed out that if evacuated, residents can visit any Rite Aid store for their prescriptions because the chain's satellite-linked computer network enables them to get a prescription history at any Rite Aid location.

Walgreen Co., too, offered medication preparedness advice late Thursday as Hurricane Irene continued to progress up the East Coast.

The nation's largest drug chain, with more than 7,700 stores nationwide, said that in the event of evacuation consumers should get to a safe location first and then refill their medication at the nearest pharmacy, enabling them to avoid potentially long lines at their local pharmacy and not delay their evacuation. Walgreens also noted that all of its locations can access a patient's medication record. It recommended that consumers also take a waterproof bag with their current medications (including empty bottles) and bring along a written record of current prescriptions, including dosage and doctor contact information.

In addition, Walgreens said that users of web-enabled cell phones can register for mobile applications to order prescription refills on the go and locate the nearest Walgreens pharmacy.

The chain noted that it's a member of ICERx.org (In Case of Emergency Prescriptions), a secure prescription information network available to pharmacists and doctors during a national emergency. As a member, Walgreens pharmacists can fill prescriptions and access information for hurricane-affected patients even if the patient typically uses another pharmacy.