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Medicine Center Pharmacy celebrates 40 years

By SARA KLEIN News Leader Staff Writer Published: December 1, 2016 12:00 AM

Customers who visit Minerva's Medicine Center Pharmacy at 251 E. Street will learn that the business is celebrating its 40th anniversary when they see the variety of items on sale for 40 cents each. But they might not know that the sale and the anniversary are taking place thanks to the lottery.

When owner Paul White was working as a pharmacist in the 1970s, he had no plans to open the Minerva pharmacy or any business, for that matter but the lottery changed all that.

"I went to work one day...walked up to the pharmacy counter, and the scratch and win lottery ticket had just come out. It was a huge novelty," explained White, who was working for Canton-based Schuman Drug Company at the time.

Company management insisted that pharmacists sell the tickets. But after spending the better part of an hour handing out tickets even before he could get into the pharmacy to fill prescriptions White decided he had enough.

"That got me started thinking and here's a guy who thought he'd never own his own business. A week or so later I got a postcard from this company called Medicine Shoppe. That concept kind of came to me, and I thought, 'Let's give this a whirl,'" he said.

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The "whirl" began in 1976 with one Medicine Shoppe location in Canton, but it steadily grew.

Forty years later, the whirl is still going strong. Now called Medicine Center Pharmacy, White's enterprise includes the Canton location as well as a location in New Philadelphia, two locations in Louisville, and the Minerva pharmacy.

Four of the Medicine Center Pharmacy locations offer drive-through prescription pick-up and home delivery of medications as well as aisles stocked with personal care, first aid, and other household health items.

Pharmacy technicians at those locations are trained to show patients how to use medical equipment such as blood glucose meters and ostomy equipment, which White said frees up the pharmacists to spend more time counseling patients about their prescriptions.

But White wanted his enterprise to do even more when it came to covering patients' needs for their medicines.

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In 1994 he opened the New Philadelphia location, which includes a complete medicine compounding laboratory that was the first Medicine Center Pharmacy in the nation and the second in Ohio to be certified by the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board.

Today it is one of only four pharmacies in Ohio and 200 nationwide with the certification.

"It's one of those things we're proud of because it holds us to a higher standard. It's a lot of documentation, and it's a lot of accountability," commented White's son, Brad, who followed in his father's footsteps as a pharmacist and runs the New Philadelphia location.

"Granted, not every pharmacy in the state has to do it, but it's something that we can have confidence of not only for our physicians but for our patients to guarantee the product that we're putting out," Brad said.

White indicated that the small-town touch is still an essential part of Medicine Center's service.

Customers who stop into one of White's Medicine Center Pharmacy locations can not only purchase health supplies and medications but can also get personalized help to monitor their health.

In partnership with Mercy Medical Center, the pharmacies offer low-cost, monthly screenings of total cholesterol, blood sugar, and more. In January, April, July and October, the pharmacies also offer the A1-C test, which measures a patient's average blood sugar for the past 60 days.

"That pretty much tells you are you a non-diabetic or a diabetic," White explained.

Immunizations to protect against the flu, pneumonia, hepatitis A and B, meningitis, tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis and shingles are also available.

Several newer services are also available at Medicine Center Pharmacy to help customers who have trouble keeping up with some of their healthcare costs. White said all locations are offering a blood glucose monitoring program, which gives former and newly diagnosed diabetic patients a free meter and a box of testing strips.

"This has been an extremely successful program," White commented. "Comments from the people are, 'Boy, I was paying $100 for the strips in the big stores, and here you are for $7.95 a month.'"

Meanwhile, customers with kids can sign up for a vitamin program that, each month, gives them a free bottle of chewable vitamins made specially by a company that partners with Medicine Center Pharmacy.

White's Medicine Center Pharmacy locations also participate in Med Sync, a program for Medicare patients that fills all of their prescriptions for the month and offers them for pick-up all at once.

Technology and new services have helped White's enterprise to keep moving ahead, but he said the service his staff offers to customers is the biggest key to his business's success over the years.

"We have excellent staff. We have a lot of long-term pharmacists. We have well over 100 years of combined pharmacist time. And that translates into excellent service," he commented.

Minerva's Medicine Center Pharmacy is open Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The pharmacy is closed on Sundays and holidays. More information is available by calling 330-868-6200 or visit http://www.medshoprx.com/#feeds.

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