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Former Fedco manager starts general pharmacy

By JIM ROSS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 27, 2002

INVERNESS -- Bob Brashear could have worked for Eckerd. He could have worked for any number of pharmacies.

But Brashear has decided to work for himself, instead.

The former manager at the now-closed Fedco Discount Drugs has, as promised, started his own pharmacy. It's at 210 W Highland Blvd., which also is home to Brashear's other business: Brashear's Vital Care Home Infusion Pharmacy.

Potential customers should know that the general pharmacy remains in its infancy.

During mid January, Brashear started filling prescriptions for patients whom Hospice of Citrus County serves. Last week, he started doing business with customers who don't have pharmacy insurance plans.

The reason: his computer isn't set up to handle insurance programs.

But it will be soon.

"I plan to have really competitive prices," Brashear said. "I set the prices at Fedco. I know how to set fair prices."

Brashear has operated his home-infusion business since 1991. It provides high-tech pharmacy services (such as drugs that must be administered intravenously) for patients who need service in their homes. This usually required assistance from one of the local nursing agencies.

Ever since late November, when Fedco shut its doors, Brashear has wanted to open his own general pharmacy, one that could serve at least part of the loyal customer base Fedco had built.

Eckerd bought Fedco's prescription files and immediately started serving Fedco customers. The company also pledged to meet any local competitor's price on prescriptions.

Despite those assurances, some Fedco customers chose to shift their prescription records elsewhere.

Brashear said he hopes some of those files come his way. Eckerd made him a "gracious offer," but he chose to go it alone, instead.

He has hired a few former Fedco employees to work with him. "So you (Fedco customers) should see some of the familiar faces," Brashear said. The pharmacy telephone number is 637-2079.

In other medical news:

Radiology change: The radiologists who serve Seven Rivers Community Hospital are making changes in their practice that will prevent them from continuing that work, the hospital announced last week.

Drs. Robert Schoenfeld and Julio Sandoval will continue to provide radiological services until the hospital can arrange for other providers.

Seven Rivers is in the process of reviewing new groups and working with the current radiologists to ensure appropriate coverage to meet patients' needs, hospital spokeswoman Dorothy Pernu said.

Medicare change: In case you missed the news, Medicare now will cover an annual dilated eye examination for beneficiaries who are at high risk for developing glaucoma.

Glaucoma is an eye disease characterized by increased pressure of the fluid within the eye, according to World Book Online. This causes damage to the optic nerve and loss of vision.

Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the United States and worldwide. According to Dr. John Rowda, from the West Coast Eye Institute in Lecanto, glaucoma affects 3-million people; it is estimated that 1.5-million Americans with glaucoma remain undiagnosed.

"The good news is that there are many advances in medical research for glaucoma," according to a document that Rowda prepared. "This allows doctors to treat patients with glaucoma more effectively and with fewer side effects. The earlier glaucoma is detected, the easier it is to treat and the more likely you are to retain your vision."

To be eligible for a glaucoma screening exam, patients must be enrolled in Medicare Part B, be 50 or older, and have gone at least a year without an eye exam.

Patients also must qualify as a high risk -- in other words, they must have diabetes, a family history of glaucoma or be African-American. (African-Americans are much more likely to contract glaucoma, the government has reported.)

"Glaucoma, and the risk of vision loss, remains unrecognized for millions of Americans," said Dr. Paul A. Sieving, director of the National Eye Institute, in a Medicare news release.

"The expanded Medicare coverage will help people keep their vision, especially those at high risk for eye disease," Sieving says. "Once vision is lost from glaucoma, it cannot be restored -- the damage is irreversible. Studies have shown that the early detection and treatment of glaucoma, before it causes major vision loss, is the best way to control the disease."

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