Midtown Rx Pharmacy: Affordable Pharmaceuticals in Midtown

In the heart of Midtown at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Alexandrine Street lays Midtown Rx Pharmacy. Midtown Rx Pharmacy opened in January of 2016 as Midtown’s newest pharmaceuticals store. Though definitely not the first pharmacy in the area (the business is merely a few blocks from much larger competitors like CVS and Rite Aid), Midtown Rx Pharmacy chose its location in the center of Midtown with a very specific purpose: to provide more personal care. Mike Srour, Pharm.D., is the owner and operating pharmacist of the business; we sat down with Mike to learn more about his mission.

Mike Srour, Pharm.D., owner and operating pharmacist of Midtown Rx Pharmacy, prioritizes affordability

Srour had previously worked for a larger chain corporation with a familiar name and a steady customer influx. However, he felt one-on-one time with his patients often took a backseat to enhance speed of delivery and numbers of prescriptions filled. Srour decided to leave his pharmaceutical job at this larger company in an affluent neighborhood to instead set off on his own in the city of Detroit.

Almost immediately after beginning his business in Midtown, Srour noticed significant differences in his patient demographic. He found that many of his new customers in Detroit often didn’t know which prescriptions they were taking. Formerly, at the suburban pharmacy, most patients understood what each of their drugs were meant for and which drugs could or could not be taken together. In Midtown, Srour discovered that far more of his patients did not have a primary care physician or even insurance and could only describe their maintenance prescriptions as “the red pills.” He also encountered more patients experiencing homelessness than he had previously, many of whom were unsure of how to even administer their own medications.

Srour has recognized, however, that his new position as owner and operator of his own pharmacy affords him the opportunity to prioritize patient education and affordable care. Dedicated to these principles, he works six days a week and provides free home deliveries. On top of this, Srour finds time to sit down with his patients and explain to them what prescriptions they are taking. He employs medication therapy management to help his patients stay on track of all the medications they need. These business practices represent a change in approach from the larger corporate chain that formerly employed Mr. Srour.

Competing with larger corporate chains has not been without its share of difficulties.  As a private owner, reimbursements go down, and thus volume must go up. The location of the pharmacy has also proven challenging at times: individuals come in with fake scripts looking for narcotics, and Srour even experienced a break-in earlier this month. However, despite these obstacles, Mike Srour has found a distinct need for affordable pharmaceuticals, and he strives to provide the most personal care he can to his patients.

After recognizing the need for pharmaceuticals here in Detroit, Srour began working with Street Medicine Detroit to help provide our patients with appropriate medications. “Sometimes homeless people will stop taking their maintenance medication because it’s the last thing on their minds of stuff to worry about,” he noted. Srour will often personally deliver the pharmaceuticals to the shelter to make sure everyone is taken care of and fully educated on what their prescription entails.

Though it was difficult to build a patient base in the Midtown area (with several other competing pharmacies nearby, as well as pharmacies operating within the hospitals themselves), Srour has found a loyal following in the area, in part due to his philanthropic nature. Apart from assisting Street Medicine Detroit, Srour works with uninsured individuals on a case-by-case basis to see if he can provide the most cost-effective option for people to acquire their medications. Though he can’t provide a free pharmacy, he works hard to make medication affordable for those who are struggling and focuses heavily on educating all his patients regarding the details of their pharmaceutical regiment.

We asked Mike Srour what made him leave his comfortable suburban corporate pharmacy, open a pharmacy in Midtown Detroit, and take on the challenge of serving a much more impoverished community. “I wanted to do something different. I didn’t just do it for the money; I wanted to have a more direct contact with my patients. There’s a huge difference in the way that you can treat patients when you run things yourself. You can spend that extra time and explain things to them in a way that they will understand,” he said. This quote captures the selfless drive that motivates Srour to help Street Medicine Detroit serve our patients, and more importantly, empower the people of Detroit to improve their health.

Midtown Rx Pharmacy is open Sunday through Monday and is located at 4100 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201

Kristy Abraham, MSI, SMD Communications Coordinator

Alana’s Foundation: Protecting SMD Patients from The Flu

Every year, the arrival of autumn brings with it familiar sights, smells, and sounds. We think about leaves changing color, cooler weather, football, Halloween, and seasonal foods flavored with apple or pumpkin. While it has also become commonplace, many people overlook the importance of getting their annual flu shot amid the excitement of fall festivity. However, without sufficient immunization your community is at high risk for flu transmission and the potential severe consequences. With the start of flu season in October, now is the perfect time to protect yourself and your community from the flu; head over to HealthMap today and find out where you can get your annual flu shot today!

    Influenza, the virus that flu shots protect against, is one of many medical conditions individuals facing homelessness are at higher risk of acquiring. Already at diminished health due to the environmental insults of homelessness, these individuals also experience specific risk factors that increase their likelihood of suffering from influenza. First and foremost, the arrival of colder and wetter weather generally pushes most homeless individuals to seek the warmth of shelters. Despite the best attempts of shelters to maintain cleanliness, this type of housing quickly becomes crowded and unsanitary. As with school-children, close quarters enhance transmission of influenza via aerosol droplets. When one individual in a shelter has an influenza infection, they can easily spread it to other people. Additionally, some homeless individuals tend to travel throughout the community increasing their exposure to influenza viruses. When they stay at a shelter, they share this exposure with everyone else. Finally, the challenges of homelessness (e.g., finding food and shelter, exposure to the environment, fear of assault/robbery, etc.) are extremely stressful. This impairs the immune system’s ability to respond to insults, such as influenza. In combination, these factors explain the elevated risk of acquiring the flu that homeless individuals experience.

    Despite this elevated risk, this medical need of homeless individuals often goes unattended. Shelters do their best to prevent transmission by promoting healthy behaviors (e.g., hand washing), disinfecting surfaces, and isolating infected individuals from other people. However, decreased access to and use of healthcare limits vaccination in this population. Here at Street Medicine Detroit we do our best to minimize the effects of flu season. This would not be possible without the generous funding provided by Alana’s Foundation. A Michigan-based non-profit organization run by volunteers and funded solely through donations, Alana’s Foundation was founded in the memory of Alana Yaksich who died of flu-related complications in February of 2003. Grieving for Alana and shocked at how few people knew the importance of flu vaccines, Alana’s family created her foundation to promote influenza vaccination. Alana’s Foundation promotes influenza education and provides financial and emotional support to people who have lost loved ones to influenza. Additionally, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, they provide influenza grants for underserved populations to non-profits and colleges/universities.

    Street Medicine Detroit has been lucky enough to receive some of these grants. Last flu season, aside from treating symptomatic patients, SMD provided free flu shots to patients we encountered on street runs or at NSO. Without Alana’s Foundation, we could not have provided 100 flu shots to a group of people who otherwise might not have received this vaccination. Additionally, thanks to generous funding from Alana’s Foundation, we will be doing the same again this year!

To find out more about influenza and flu season visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website

Eric Walton, MSII, SMD Director of Communications