Minnesota’s only medication repository opens

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RoundtableRX is the only medication repository in Minnesota, and it’s now open for business.

"This is an example of a box where you had medications that are donated," says third-year University of Minnesota pharmacy student Eva Carlson.

The repository is essential "Minnesota’s medication matchmaker," taking unused and safe prescription medications and dispensing them to patients in need for free or at little cost.

"We saw two problems in Minnesota, we saw a lot of medication waste and we saw a lot of patients in need," Carlson said.

KSTP introduced viewers to Carlson more than two years ago who, along with other University of Minnesota pharmacy students, pursued the idea of a medication repository, which included drafting new legislation and pitching it to lawmakers.

Their idea is now a reality and the repository just sent out its first medication.

"What was it like getting those first orders in? It was really exciting to see it come full circle. We’ve had so many hurdles. One after the other last year, but we just kept going and it’s really paid off," she said.

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The medicine is coming from long-term care facilities, where patients have either passed away or been moved to new prescriptions.

"We’ve been getting a lot of inhalers in and these can run pretty expensive, even for a month supply," Carlson explains.

Narcotics and temperature-controlled prescriptions are not accepted. Medications that are accepted, are checked for safety and then cataloged.

"Over $100,000 worth of medications have currently been accepted and are ready to go out to patients," Carlson said.

RoundtableRX will receive a prescription request from a provider or pharmacist and then sends that medication out to the patient.

"As much fun as it is to collect that $100,000 worth of inventory, our ultimate goal is to give those out into the hands of patients in need," said Rachel Rockwell, assistant director of pharmacy operations for RoundtableRX.

Rockwell works as a full-time community pharmacist and sees the need.

"Every day I see at least one patient a day that is struggling to afford their medication that’s hundreds of dollars," Rockwell said. "We’re here to help close the gap’s in that patient’s care."

RoundtableRX has a 4giving fundraising page set up for monetary donations and is also in need of volunteer pharmacists to help keep the operation running.

Medical providers and pharmacists are also needed to partner with to get the prescriptions out to Minnesotans in need.

Providers can access a complete list of available medications online and are encouraged to check frequently as available medications will change.

"We can mail medication anywhere, so we can reach every corner of the state," Carlson added.