"I identified a need amongst
patients who were having catastrophic illnesses unnecessarily because
they weren't being properly medicated," the Jarrettsville resident said.
Since the beginning, Towson-based Medbank
has served nearly 42,000 patients across the state, McEwan said.
Medbank works with pharmaceutical
companies to obtain the free medications. Its bulk-distribution pharmacy
off York Road in Towson works directly with four major companies -
Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Abbott and Novartis - to distribute donated
medications to their clients' doctors. The companies send Medbank the
medications based on needs of patients in the area, McEwan said.
It also works with many other pharmaceutical companies' medication
donation programs and has access to more than 900 medications, McEwan
said. Pharmaceutical companies gave more than $4 billion in free
medications last year, he said.
The most common ailments Medbank provides medications for are
hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, breathing disorders and mental
illnesses, McEwan said.
The yearly cost of the program is about $2 million. Less than 30
percent is covered by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental
Hygiene, and the rest comes from grants and donations.
The cost of running the program and providing the free medications is
much less than the cost of not medicating those in need, McEwan said. A
study in conjunction with the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy
showed that people without access to needed medications were likely to
be hospitalized at least once each year, costing on average of $12,000.
With Medbank providing medications for about 10,000 patients a year,
the hospitalizations are often prevented, he said, saving taxpayers
millions of dollars.
"It's a huge cost to society, not medicating people," McEwan said.
Phyllis Stickles, of Middle River, has been with Medbank for about
three years, but she will soon no longer be eligible for Medbank
services because of the new Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit .
"I'm very, very sorry to see them have to leave us now to the new
Medicare Part D set up," she said.
"I have nothing but positive (experiences with Medbank) and am very
thankful to have them for the period of time that I did."
Robert N. McEwan
MEDBANK of Maryland Inc.
Advancements in Health Care Honoree
The Daily Record, 2006
It’s not getting
any cheaper to get prescriptions — a serious problem even for Americans
with some money in the bank.
For chronically ill, low-income, uninsured and underinsured patients to
receive the medication they need, it’s often nearly impossible. So
Robert N. McEwan, founder and CEO of Towson-based MEDBANK of Maryland
Inc., is trying to make it easier.
With MEDBANK’s RxBridge, a recently created software program that
connects physician information with free medication programs, patients
nationwide are able to apply for and receive all of the medication they
are eligible for based on income, assets, age and insurance parameters.
RxBridge is based on the nonprofit’s initial software offering, Patient
Bridge, which debuted for Maryland patients in 2000.
At that time, there was no easy way to help patients who were not
eligible to receive medication they couldn’t afford. MEDBANK supplied
the infrastructure to process the necessary forms needed to facilitate
delivery of medications.
“Before Patient Bridge, the doctor was expected to do all of the paper
work, and they certainly didn’t have time,” McEwan said. “When we
started providing automated paperwork for the doctors, patients could
more easily acquire all the drugs they needed.”
Today, RxBridge also offers pharmaceutical companies the opportunity to
donate inventory directly to a given nonprofit via MEDBANK’s own
nonprofit division, MEDBANK Pharmacy Inc. The charitable arm helps lower
the cost of administering patient assistance programs in Maryland by
offering companies a philanthropic deduction in return for their gift.
To date, nearly 42,000 patients in Maryland have received more than
$65 million in free medications, and MEDBANK has mentored startup
programs in five other states since 2000.
Next up for the company is the spring launch of a new product called the
Qualifier, which will enable patients to be screened electronically for
every entitlement, discount or free drug program available.
“We are simply trying to bring current technology to the service
industry by trying to leverage technology to reach more underserved
people faster,” McEwan said.