- Associated Press - Monday, June 26, 2017

HEALY, Alaska (AP) - The first community-based telepharmacy in Alaska has opened in Healy.

Alaska Family Pharmacy opens Monday, allowing local residents to not have to drive to Fairbanks to fill medical prescriptions or to visit a drugstore.

Pharmacist owner Leif Holm, who owns three pharmacies in Fairbanks and is president of the Alaska Board of Pharmacy, said he is excited about the new business.

“This is a full-service retail store, the same as you would walk into a pharmacy in Fairbanks,” Holm said.

Holm was intrigued by telepharmacy technology as soon as he heard about it and began exploring ways to utilize it. He thought Healy, which has a population of just more than 1,000, was a prime location to start, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported (https://bit.ly/2u8yq78 ).

“It’s large enough it can sustain a pharmacy,” he said.

A telepharmacy allows prescriptions and pharmaceutical care to be delivered via telecommunications to patients in locations where they may not have direct contact with a pharmacist.

Holm said patients picking up medications can still speak with a pharmacist face-to-face by a phone call on a computer screen.

“When a telepharmacy comes to town, that’s when you see providers more interested in being there,” he said. “If you can see a physician here, get medication down the street, it’s the full meal deal here. We’ll be the first and hopefully get more providers.”

Holm said he hopes his Alaska roots will help inspire confidence among new customers.

“I’m a local guy,” he said. “This is a local company. My dad started a pharmacy in North Pole in 1987, so I’ve been in pharmacy my whole life. Telepharmacy was one of his dreams, but the technology just didn’t exist.”

The retail store will carry standard medicine for colds, coughs, antacids and a specialty vitamin line. He intends to put out a suggestion box, saying, “I want to carry what the community wants or needs.”

Prices will be the same as Fairbanks.

“I don’t intend to have any kind of markup,” he said. “I want it to be as if you are walking into a Fairbanks pharmacy.”

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