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Richmond non-profits grappling with the high cost of prescriptions

Posted at 10:27 AM, Oct 11, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- Some patients are not filling much-needed prescriptions due to the rising costs, according to Richmond non-profits who focus on healthcare.

Dr. Danielle Avula, associate medical director with Crossover Healthcare Ministry, has seen the struggles patients experience firsthand.

“When you're on multiple medications those costs pile up. I definitely have patients who come to us and say, ‘I can't afford all these medications,’ and are unable to fill them because of that,’” Dr. Avula explained.

Earlier this week, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va) held a round-table in Richmond centered around the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program included in the Inflation Reduction Act.

AARP said the price of prescriptions drugs is on the rise and impacting seniors’ ability to take the medications they need.

Crossover works with several non profits to fill their pharmacy and reduce the cost of prescriptions for their patients.

Rx Partnership based in Richmond just celebrated a milestone - filling 1 million prescriptions for Virginians in need since 2004.

Working via a network of 30 free and charitable clinics throughout the state, RxP coordinates the distribution of low-cost or free brand and generic medication to adult, low-income patients without insurance, regardless of ability to pay, according to a press release.

“We’d like people to get care earlier and get started with healthier lifestyle habits sooner. But in reality, in order to stay out of the emergency room, people are going to need maybe four or five different medications. That's where sometimes it gets to be a cost burden,” said Rx Partnership Executive Director Amy Yarcich.

Rx Partnership has provided more than $285.5 million in free medication and reached over 82,642 low-income, uninsured people throughout Virginia.

Crossover will continue to depend on their relationship with RxP when they expand their pharmacy from their Southside clinic to their new location on Quioccasin Road in Henrico County.

The healthcare ministry is also preparing to schedule appointments for their verified patients to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“A few of our patients have asked about the COVID vaccine. We have recently received our supply of vaccine, and we're hoping to start administering it this week. But But yes, I've I've heard a lot of questions about patients trying to figure out where they can go to get this vaccine,” said Kaitlyn Patterson, Outreach’s nurse manager.

The Richmond-Henrico Health District (RHHD) is encouraging everyone to receive their COVID-19 vaccine in addition to the flu shot.

The 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Moderna, Pfizer, and Novavax have been approved and authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The distribution of COVID-19 vaccines changed in September 2023 as these products moved to the commercial market. RHHD will provide vaccines for residents free of charge regardless of insurance status.

Due to demand, RHHD Health Director Dr. Elaine Perry said the next open appointment is November 2nd.

“It's still too soon to know if we're gonna be doing COVID-19 vaccines every fall. It looks like that may be the case and it's definitely what we're doing now,” she explained.

The vaccine is available for free with most insurance plans. Adults without insurance can access the vaccine through the Bridge Access Program.

Uninsured children can receive the vaccine through the Vaccines for Children Program. RHHD encourages residents to visit vaccines.gov to search for nearby vaccination appointments — including those at locations participating in the Bridge Access Program.

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