Local News

ChecKmeds helps seniors taking prescription drug

Posted March 17, 2009 7:07 p.m. EDT
Updated March 17, 2009 7:59 p.m. EDT

— ChecKmeds NC has helped thousands of seniors across the state. However, a lot of people who need it don't know it exists.

A consultation with a pharmacist would generally cost Tom Lynch, of Raleigh, about $50.

“We want to make sure you know how you're taking your medications ... that you're taking them correctly, that they're all necessary,” pharmacist Heidi Brantley said.

However, Lynch gets the advice for free. He is one of nearly 19,000 seniors in the state who have taken advantage of the benefits of ChecKmeds NC.

“They told me a few things that I really wasn't aware of, which helped me out, such as the time of day I should be taking these medicines,” Lynch said.

ChecKmeds provides a private meeting between the pharmacist and patient for seniors enrolled in a Medicare prescription drug program.

During the consultation, patients put all their medicines out on a table, and one-by-one, the pharmacist goes over each medicine with the patient, making sure none of the medications interact harmfully.

“Often times, people go to a variety of different physicians and see specialists and each physician or specialist may not always know each medication the patient is taking,” Brantley said.

As program organizers have found out, patients may not always know ChecKmeds even exists.

“It is expanding, but I feel like we've not reached everyone that we should,” Brantley said.

“We especially want to reach the neediest and most vulnerable seniors who do not have the ability to pay for the service,” said Vandana Shah, with the N.C. Health and Wellness Trust Fund.

Paying for the ChecKmeds service could become a challenge for the state, too. ChecKmeds is a pilot program that receives money through the N.C. Health and Wellness Trust Fund. If it is not extended, the program will expire in June.

“I definitely think it should continue. They do a lot more here than just go over your medicines,” Lynch said.

Program directors say they will lobby the state to continue the program. A decision is expected in a couple months.