Improving Equity by Improving Access

Dispensary of Hope at UConn Health Pharmacy makes prescription drugs more attainable

Portrait of Dr. Hetal Patel and Emmett Sullivan in pharmacy reception area

Dr. Hetal Patel (left) is UConn Health's pharmacy manager, and Emmett Sullivan (right) is pharmacy director. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health photo)

UConn Health Pharmacy Services Inc. is now part of program that helps get medications to people who struggle to afford their prescription drugs.

In late 2023, UConn Health became the third institution in Connecticut and fourth in New England to join the Dispensary of Hope, a nonprofit network of about 250 pharmacies throughout the US that works with the pharmaceutical companies to find patients for surplus medications that otherwise would go to the incinerator.

The eligible drugs, based on inventory from the pharmaceutical companies relative to when they expire, will vary. But qualifying patients who can use them can get them at no cost.

It’s one of the more recent examples UConn Health’s commitment to improve health care equity, part of its vision as the state’s only public academic medical center to improve the health of Connecticut citizens, particularly in underserved communities.

“Providing medications at no cost to patients, especially those at the lower income scale, would give them better access to health care, which is better access to overall quality of life,” says Emmett Sullivan, UConn Health’s pharmacy director. “We know that when people coming from different backgrounds have difficulty getting into a job that has benefits, this would be a tool that would get them that next step up to maintain a better quality of life and a more equitable life.”

Dr. Hetal Patel is pharmacy manager.

“When patients are able to actually obtain these medications, they can use their own resources for other things, rather than have to make difficult choices as to which of their family’s needs to sacrifice,” Patel says.

Patel and Sullivan explain the Dispensary of Hope in greater detail in the UConn Health Pulse podcast:

Addressing Barriers to Rx Access

“I think this is an excellent service for our patients and 100% in alignment with our service to the community especially patients were financially limited,” says Dr. Rebecca Andrews, UConn Health’s director of primary care.

Kevin Chamberlin, associate vice president and chief pharmacy officer, agrees.

“In an ever-changing health care landscape, with increasing costs and challenging access for our patients, the Dispensary of Hope program is an opportunity for UConn Health to play a role in equalizing one patient barrier point: medication costs,” Chamberlin says. “The Dispensary of Hope program gives our patient population access to medications that might otherwise be unattainable due to costs to obtain them. It will allow our uninsured patients to have access to medications with health benefits equal to that of their insured counterparts.”

Learn more about UConn Health Pharmacy Services Inc.