Drugstores across the areas hit by Hurricane Sandy have been struggling to keep their businesses open and fill prescriptions that many people need on a daily basis. Although most pharmacies stocked up on medications before the storm, many drug stores were left without power, and those that do have power are concerned about their decreasing supply of medications.
Both chain and independent pharmacies are feeling the pressure to get patients their medication across New York and New Jersey. Some pharmacies that are without power are filling prescriptions in the mornings with the help of the natural sunlight. Danny Nanna, a pharmacist in Hackensack, N.J., notes how his pharmacy might be the only one in the area with power, and “there’s still a lot of people who need their medicines.”
Even if the drug store has power and is open for business, the limited supply of medicine remains a major concern. In Newark, NJ, pharmacist Rupal Shah explains how one of her regular wholesale suppliers flooded. Her other supplier operates out of New York City and may not be able to travel to her store because of flooding and the wake of destruction from Hurricane Sandy.
National corporate chains have recently reported that they’re starting to reopen the majority of their stores throughout hard-hit areas. CVS reportedly is using generators in about 60 stores in locations that are still without power, and 16 stores remain closed because of water and wind damage. Many chains are setting up temporary pharmacies so patients can still have access to their prescriptions as damaged stores are repaired. Both CVS and Walgreens have implemented mobile pharmacies in areas where stores will be closed for an extended period of time.
The New Jersey State Board of Pharmacy recently released a directive detailing how pharmacists can address patient needs in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Although the Board advises pharmacists to use their expertise and professional judgment during this state of emergency to help ensure patient health and safety, they also issued a guidance document that will expire on November 30.
Guidelines include dispensing refills for individuals who do not have access to their local pharmacy; transferring medications between pharmacies to ensure the continued supply of medication to patients; and dispensing a 30-day supply of medication at a hospital pharmacy when the patient’s local pharmacy is not accessible. The Board will review the situation at the time of expiration and extend the directive if necessary.