The fires in California are contained, but victims aren’t out of the woods

The fires that have devastated California have been contained, but the crisis is far from over. 

When you’re trying to escape with your life, grabbing your medications is hardly top of mind. The people affected by the fire need their medications, and there are secondary effects, like poor air quality, that can’t be underestimated. Pharmacies in the Golden State have been working to help patients and distribute face masks.

Arad Gourdazi, PharmD, is the owner of Regency Medical Pharmacy in Newbury Park, CA, one of the pharmacies that sprung into action to help both new and existing patients affected by the fires. Regency hired extra technicians and drivers to deliver medications to patients in shelters and emergency centers. They’re also delivering to hotel rooms for patients, some of whom have been relocated up to 100 miles away.

Gourdazi tells us that lots of patients needed their blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart failure medications. He also saw many patients who needed rescue inhalers and asthma medications. Many of them had no idea that their pharmacist could help them during times like these until Regency started reaching out.

There are other resources you should know about:
•    Healthcare Ready’s is an interactive map that helps patients and providers find nearby open pharmacies in areas affected by disaster and was activated for the camp fire in Northern California. Pharmacies that find their status is not consistent with what’s showing on the map can send an e-mail to [email protected].
•    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has activated the Emergency Prescription Assistance Program (EPAP) for uninsured patients in Butte, Los Angeles, and Ventura counties. EPAP provides a 30-day supply of select prescriptions and durable medical equipment at no cost. Patients can learn more and determine their eligibility by calling the EPAP hotline at (855) 793-7470. You can find a list of what EPAP does and doesn’t cover at .
•    Additionally, the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) members approved the most effective method for overriding refill too soon type reject during a disaster: using the Submission Clarification Code 13–Payer-Recognized Emergency/Disaster Assistance Request. This indicates that an override is needed based on an emergency/disaster situation recognized by the payer. Download more information on our Emergency Preparedness Task Group in the , under MC: Maintenance and Control.
•    If you’d like to donate to help relief efforts, you can find worthy organizations at . You can donate to American Red Cross Disaster Relief via or by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

We are keeping everyone affected—patients and pharmacists—in our thoughts.