Advocacy Spotlight: Love Oak Pharmacy

Oct 13, 2017
AmerisourceBergen commends our independent pharmacy members for their extraordinary efforts to make their local communities better places to live. Good Neighbor Pharmacy and Elevate Provider Network member Love Oak Pharmacy is one example of an independent pharmacy going above and beyond for its patients—all the way from Texas to Washington D.C.!

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When Ben McNabb was 16 years old, he got his first job at Eastland Drug in his Texas hometown. His time on the clock was spent refilling shelves, taking out the trash, and making deliveries to nearby nursing homes. It wasn’t glamorous by any means, but being able to watch the pharmacist at his store interact with patients was life changing.

“Seeing the pharmacist be a friend to everyone and be a part of the local community—how it operates and how it succeeds—was very inspiring to me,” said McNabb. “I realized that this isn’t just about the day-to-day patient interactions. It’s about deep community involvement.”

Recognizing Ben’s growing interest in the profession, the owner of the pharmacy graciously took Ben under his wing, much the same way the previous owner had done for him when he was about the same age. This mentorship not only motivated Ben to become a pharmacist, but it eventually led him and his wife, Heather, to purchase that same pharmacy in July 2015, carrying on the legacy of independent ownership that began in 1920.

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Since becoming a pharmacy owner, Ben has made it his mission to develop the same deep personal connection with his patients as his predecessors. He successfully rebranded his store as Love Oak Pharmacy to reflect his commitment to the community. He instituted a robust synchronization and adherence packaging program that allows him to work one on one with patients and make it easier for them to remember to take their medications. He has even contributed to various scholarships that support local students.

Love Oak Pharmacy at the Capitol BuildingEarlier this year, Ben decided that another effective way to help his community would be to advocate for them on a larger scale, so he participated in the 2017 NCPA Congressional Pharmacy Fly-in. He traveled to Washington D.C. with a group of fellow Texas pharmacists to speak with elected officials about the issues affecting their patients back home.

“With the recent political changeover and the majority environment, this is a very critical time,” said McNabb. “We need to make sure that our legislators understand our challenges. DIR fees, closed network contracts, preferred copay status, and mail orders have all hurt our ability to stay strong for our communities, and that directly impacts our patients. Some of these people need a lot more help than a postman coming by their mailbox, so issues like provider status have to be made top of mind.”

“Drug pricing is another reason why I decided to get more involved,” he continued. “President Trump is talking about it. Bernie Sanders is talking about it. You couldn’t have two more opposite people talking about drug pricing, so obviously both parties are concerned with how that affects the average person. In my opinion, it’s a nonpartisan issue, and we as pharmacists have valuable insight on what can be done to lower drug prices, especially regarding PBMs.”

While in Washington, Ben and his group of Texas pharmacists visited with several representatives and their staff members to discuss these topics. One of their key meetings was with Senator Ted Cruz—a feat that took several phone calls to arrange.

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“My wife called Ted Cruz’s office at least five times trying to get that meeting, and then they finally set it up,” said McNabb. “It’s that persistence that makes a difference. Sending letters and emails to your representatives is great, but I think the phone calls and the office visits are even more impactful. People notice when you’ve taken the time to go to D.C. or your state capitol.”

Ben was honored to be an advocate for his patients at the NCPA Fly-in. It was not only an opportunity to raise awareness of important issues on their behalf, but it was also a learning experience that will help him be even more effective in his efforts moving forward. He was able to gain a better understanding of how Washington works firsthand, get tips from veteran pharmacists on how to engage his congressmen, network with people who share his values, and build meaningful relationships that will benefit his community in the long run.

“It was a really great experience that inspired us to continue doing more for our patients,” said McNabb. “We all want to go the extra mile to make sure healthcare is distributed in a way that’s going to help people on a deeper level. Because ultimately that’s what really matters. It’s about the lives you change.”

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