CLEVELAND - When a woman pulled her car into the Giant Eagle pharmacy drive-thru, she was prepared to pay for the diabetes medicine her doctor had prescribed. However, she was almost breathless when she learned from the pharmacist there would be no charges again for her prescriptions.
The customer, at the Legacy Village Giant Eagle in suburban Cleveland, was one of the first customers to benefit from the free diabetes medications program announced by Giant Eagle pharmacies. Inside the store, Giant Eagle executives were holding a news conference where they announced their new plan.
"Here in Ohio, in particular, diabetes has increased by more than 60 percent in the last 10 years," said Giant Eagle vice president Randy Heiser. He said because of an epidemic in type-2 diabetes, his company would provide five free diabetes medications. They are Glimepiride, Glipizide, Glyburine, Metformin and Clorpropamide, which will provided at new cost to prescription holders.
The supermarket chain, which operates pharmacies inside its facilities, teamed with the American Diabetes Association. The executive director of the Northeast Ohio operation of the ADA, Jill Pupa, spoke on the necessity for such a program.
"When you have a chronic systemic disease like diabetes, taking your medication is not really an option," she said, commenting on large numbers of people who must decide whether to spend their money on medicine, food or shelter.
Giant Eagle officers also said the company would offer free diabetes screenings and help customrs with decisions on making healther choices in food and lifestyles.
In Northeast Ohio, there are 330,000 diabetics.
"We want to do the screenings in August and we're going to come back again and do this in January," said Heiser. He said the double-screenings would allow diabetics to see how well they were doing on handling their disease.
Pupa said diabetes makes those it strikes at higher risks for kidney problems, strokes and high blood pressure. Giant Eagle believes by offering free medicines, it can help people lead healther lives.
Elaine Levine was shopping in the Legacy Village Giant Eagle during the news conference as company officers addressed members of the news media. When she heard the phrase "free medicine," she walked into the news confernce, saying that was what she needed.
Heiser explained the program personally to her.
"We start a program and we don't stop it," he told Levine, who promised to return the next day with her prescription.
"We look forward to seeing you," said Heiser.
Certainly, there will be thousands of diabetics who will take advantage of the new offer by Giant Eagle.
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