Why community pharmacies are awesome


By: Jennifer McMillen Smith, MSSA, LISW-S, Division of Infectious Disease and medically reviewed by Ann Avery, Infectious Disease Physician at Metrohealth Medical Center

Community pharmacies are just one of the many things we love about living in the modern world. They’re totally open to the public and come with some pretty cool benefits. What’s not to love?

You know that rocking your HIV treatment involves a lot of work. Between taking your medications, to managing your stress levels, watching your diet, exercising, and going to doctors appointments, you aren’t left with a ton of free time. That makes having a community pharmacy all the more helpful, because it can take some of the stress out of living with HIV.


What is a community/specialty pharmacy?

It may sound strange at first, but many people think of the staff at a community pharmacy as family. They work hard to make life a little easier for you and understand the stress you’re under when it comes to your medications.

After all, you have to remember to take your meds each day, order refills, pick them up before the pharmacy closes – and this might happen even more often if you have different meds for other health conditions, too. It can be hard to keep track of everything! Thankfully, community pharmacies can help you with all of this extra stuff and make getting and taking your meds easy.

Community pharmacists do more for you than just fill your prescriptions. They also keep in contact with your health care team to manage and review your medications and to ensure your medications are safe and working well.

Sometimes you can get your medications packaged together by dose or by day rather than in separate bottles. That makes it a lot easier when you have to take a bunch of meds each day or at different times of the day. You’ll find that some pharmacies will even deliver your prescriptions to you, which saves you a trip.


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Added benefits of community pharmacies

We’ve already talked about some of the reasons why community pharmacies are the best, but can you believe that there are even more? Check these out:

  • Your pharmacists will call your doctor to get refills for your prescriptions so you don’t have to.
  • They also handle prior authorizations for various medications, which has to do with which meds your insurance will cover and how much the company will pay for them.
  • Some community pharmacies also have co-pay assistance programs to help you pay for your meds.
  • They can help determine if you’re eligible to get assistance with paying for your meds from pharmaceutical manufacturers through medication Patient Assistance Programs.
  • They can dispose of your old medications. (Believe it or not, flushing them isn’t the best idea for the water supply and the environment.)
  • Community pharmacies also provide you with instructions and information about how to take your meds and what it is they do, exactly. You can ask the pharmacist any questions you want about your pills. Best of all, no appointment needed!

Community pharmacies offer services you might not get anywhere else, especially since many medications need health plan authorizations or have other requirements. Your pharmacists and pharmacy technicians often advocate for patients with insurance companies so they don’t end up paying more for their meds than they need to. Some pharmacies can even fill specialty orders with same day or next day shipping.

As an added bonus, a lot of the time community pharmacies give a percentage of the money they bring in back to the community. That means that if you get your meds filled at a community pharmacy, you’re helping those around you!


What are some specialty pharmacies I can use?

There are plenty of community and specialty pharmacies to choose from in Northeast Ohio. The one you choose will probably depend on whichever one is closest to where you live or work. A few local community pharmacies with some great perks are:

Now that you’ve read all about community pharmacies, are you ready to make the switch? Like everything related to your health, it’s a big commitment. But it’s easy to see how much easier maintaining your HIV treatment can be when you use a community pharmacy!

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