CENTER, Mo. — Grand Pharmacy opened its doors on July 22 to the area’s first telepharmacy in Center, allowing local patients access to their medicine, and other supplies, without traveling to a larger town.

Thanks to Missouri legislation that passed in 2020 allowing Class R pharmacies, also known as telepharmacies, pharmacists can now approve prescriptions remotely. Greg Gilmore, owner and pharmacist at Grand Pharmacy, said this gave them an opportunity to provide services to smaller towns.

“A lot of other states have allowed it for years, but Missouri just now allowed it,” Gilmore said. “It allows smaller towns like Center, where we never could justify paying a pharmacist, to have a pharmacy when they used to not be able to.”

Before the state approved the legislation, a pharmacist was required to be on-site at all times, but now pharmacists can work with a technician to verify and safely approve prescriptions through a technology called TelePharm. This also enables customers to have one-on-one consultations with the pharmacists in a private room equipped with an iPad.

Grand Pharmacy has been locally operated and part of the Hannibal community for thirty years, and that is where Gilmore continues to work while technician Jackie Dryden, manages the Center location.

“I talked to several owners of telepharmacies all over the country when I was thinking about doing this and the common thread was to have a technician who has experience and that you could trust,” Gilmore said. “I immediately thought of Jackie because she just celebrated her twentieth year in Hannibal with Grand Pharmacy.”

Dryden will be the only full time employee on-site but a delivery driver will also be there at certain times. Gilmore said delivery will be available to all residents in the city limits of Center.

“Center’s not a big town, but if you don’t have a vehicle, you don’t want to have to walk, and a lot of people without vehicles are trying to catch a ride to Hannibal or wherever to get their meds,” Gilmore said. “Proximity is such a huge key to healthcare, so when people have to travel it’s a barrier.”

Dryden also noted that local people can get more than just prescriptions at Grand Pharmacy in Center. “We do cough drops, bandages, vitamins, shampoo and conditioner, and deodorant. Basic items that you don’t want to make a trip for if you run out of.”

Although the virtual process may add time to the process, Gilmore said the total amount of time to fill a prescription will be minutes, and that the remote location will not change the small town atmosphere Grand Pharmacy is known for.

“There will still be all the perks of a local small pharmacy.”

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