FHC, Partners Announce Closure of NH Med Bank

Collaborative program designed to help residents gain access to necessary medications closes due to funding, lack of support

The NH Med Bank began as a pilot project in 2012 as a joint project of SeaCare Health Services and the Foundation for Healthy Communities (FHC) under a grant funded by the Endowment for Health.  The program aimed to enhance access to necessary medications by collecting unused, unexpired medications from pharmaceutical companies and healthcare facilities in NH and dispensing them to residents unable to afford their medications.  After the pilot was completed, the NH Med Bank closed for a year before reopening in December 2015 as a joint collaboration of three organizations: owned by Manchester Community Health Center with facility space provided by Catholic Medical Center and program management support from the Foundation for Healthy Communities.

Today, the NH Med Bank is facing an insurmountable challenge of procuring donations due to the loss of its medication supply in mid-2017 when Omnicare, the NH Med Bank’s main medication donor, was purchased by CVS and the new owner chose not to continue participating in the program.  A plea went out in July for donations to the Medical Society, Board of Pharmacy, hospital Pharmacy Directors, Bi-State Primary Care Association and Retail Pharmacy managers across the State of NH which yielded a handful of donations. A newly implemented federal law, Drug Supply Chain Security Act, aka “track and trace”, further limited suppliers willingness to become regular donors of unused medications.  The Dispensary of Hope, a non-profit drug distributor, was contacted but their program requirements of recipients being uninsured and less than or equal to 200% of the poverty level limited potential use in NH and would have required an additional burden of proof from patients at the referring sites.

Although the NH Med Bank was a visionary program at its inception, the environment has shifted significantly since the original concept of the program.  Additional factors affecting the feasibility of continuing current operations include:

  • The ACA was not in place to help the large number of uninsured in NH; now there is increased access to prescription coverage through the NH Medicaid expansion
  • Prescribing and dispensing practices of hospitals and nursing home systems had full bottles of medications filled at a time (instead of one dose at a time) and therefore had more waste as a result
  • There were more independent nursing homes
  • There was a dependable supply of medication donations available through Omnicare

In 2016, a Sustainability Committee focused on compiling a list of potential fiscal sources, evaluated each one and applied for funding from many organizations. The initial grant from the Endowment for Health was used to pay for the expense of supporting the primary role responsible for developing the supply network and managing the day to day operations, but a search for sustained future funding met with limited success. We were unable to identify a funder who would provide grant support for this to carry the program long-term.

The current partners do not have this program included as a primary part of their missions, nor do they have the ability to divert funds to support it absent other options. While the NH Med Bank benefits from donated software and medications, as well as volunteer pharmacists, some operational costs remain. Expenses for Internet and phone access, mailing supplies and some staffing costs add up to approximately $40,000 per year.  The current numbers served is limited due to small inventory and pilot phase, and therefore make it even more difficult to justify the expenses.

Due to all of the reasons outlined and extenuating circumstances beyond our control, we have been unable to reach the goal of becoming a sustainable non-profit business model within the two year time frame established in December of 2015.  In December of 2017, the decision was made by all partners to close the Med Bank. Participating sites were notified on January 3rd, 2018.  The NH Med Bank, ceased operations effective February 1st, 2018.

We recognize the invaluable dedication of our Pharmacy Technician, Beth D'Urso Bernard, CPhT and our Pharmacist In-Charge, Eugene “Gene” Charles Johnson, J.D., R.Ph. MBA, MHA who have given much of their time and professional passion to the Med Bank as well as our team of volunteer pharmacists.


Paul A. Mertzic, RN, BSN, MS

Executive Director, Community Health & Mission, Catholic Medical Center

Peter T. Ames, MPH

Executive Director, Foundation for Healthy Communities

Kris McCracken

President/CEO, Manchester Community Health Center, Child Health Services & West Side Neighborhood Health Center