Addressing social determinants of health to improve equitable access to medicines

PhRMA Awards $150,000 to Address Social Determinants of Health: Announcing the Recipients of Round 4 of the PhRMA Collaborative Actions to Reach Equity (CAREs) Grant Program

Jackie McRaeMay 19, 2022

Addressing social determinants of health to improve equitable access to medicines.

PhRMA Awards $150,000 to Address Social Determinants of Health:
Announcing the Recipients of Round 4 of the PhRMA Collaborative Actions to Reach Equity (CAREs) Grant Program

As part of PhRMA’s continuing commitment to build a more just and equitable health care system, we have selected the next round of awardees in the PhRMA CAREs grant program. These recipients were selected based on their efforts to address social determinants of health to improve access to medicines in their local communities.

This round of CAREs grants supports initiatives that promote access and better outcomes by removing economic, social, and other barriers to medicines.

Goal of the PhRMA CAREs Grant Program
The CAREs grant program supports community-centered solutions to address health inequities, particularly inequities in access to medicines, through partnership with community-led organizations. An overview of prior CAREs grants recipients, who collectively have been awarded nearly $350,000, can be found at this link.

Social Determinants of Health Are Linked to Medicine Access
Medicines are critical to treating, managing, and sometimes curing illnesses, thereby offering an effective tool to improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities.i,ii There are many social determinants of health that can impact a patient’s ability to receive a medical diagnosis, be prescribed potentially life-saving medicines, fill prescribed medicines, and/or receive appropriate follow-up care.iii These social determinants include housing, access to transportation, education, and other socio-economic and environmental factors.iv Because these drivers of health outcomes are experienced locally, we believe practical, sustainable solutions to address these factors should originate from within local communities.v

PhRMA CAREs Grant Awardees Are Addressing Social Determinants of Health
Below is a snapshot of the recipients of the fourth round of the PhRMA CAREs grant program. PhRMA has awarded $37,500 to each organization to address underlying social determinants of health that impact access to medicines.


Community Pharmacists and Medication Therapy Management: A Roadmap for Equitable Access to Medicines | HealthHIV in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia

Pharmacists can serve as a trusted source of information about medications for patients living with HIV; however, pharmacists are not always trained in how to provide culturally sensitive care for patients with HIV, who also may experience stigma associated with the disease. HealthHIV is a national non-profit working to advance effective prevention, care, and support for people living with, or at risk for HIV. With funding from the PhRMA CAREs grant program, HealthHIV will provide training to pharmacists and pharmacy students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland on culturally relevant approaches to engage with patients who live with HIV and how to address social and economic factors that impact medication access. HealthHIV will also develop a paper on the best practices piloted in this training program so that it can be scaled to other HBCUs and among pharmacists to advance health equity in HIV care.

“The PhRMA CAREs grant will assist HealthHIV in our efforts to promote health equity and address disparities impacting racial, ethnic, and otherwise underserved populations. Having the ability to be adherent to medication is a major issue. This grant will support our efforts within the Washington D.C. and surrounding areas, benefiting residents across the entire ‘DMV’ (District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia).” – Christopher Hucks-Ortiz, MPH, Director of HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STIs, and Health Equity, HealthHIV. (Christopher Hucks-Ortiz, MPH is pictured above)


Providing Accessible Medication Information for Visually Impaired Patients Using Assistive Technology | University of Kansas Drug Information Center in Lawrence, Kansas

Written medication information distributed by community pharmacies is typically not available in an accessible format for patients with visual impairment and blindness, which can be a barrier to their receiving patient-friendly information about medicines they are taking. Using the PhRMA CAREs grant funding, the University of Kansas Drug Information Center will offer a free service to patients through conversion of written medication information (e.g., medication guides or patient leaflets) to an accessible format for use with a screen reader. In addition, the project will study the needs of this patient population with respect to obtaining accessible drug information in the pharmacy or other healthcare settings. Lessons from the study will be disseminated with the hope of offering scalable recommended practices for other providers, relevant stakeholders, and developers of written medication information to improve equitable access for individuals with visual disabilities.

“I am grateful to receive support for providing a service that addresses a barrier identified by patients with visual impairment or blindness and ensuring they have a way to obtain accessible formats of written drug information. The University of Kansas Drug Information Center has been serving patients in Kansas for over 40 years and this service will allow us to be more inclusive of patients with diverse needs while promoting equitable access for individuals with visual disabilities. I hope this project will bring more awareness and knowledge on accessibility to the medical field and encourage clinicians to think about the accommodations that patients with visual disabilities or blindness may need within the healthcare system.” – Cambrey Nguyen, PharmD; Clinical Assistant Professor, Drug Information Center, University of Kansas School of Pharmacy (Cambrey Nguyen, PharmD is pictured above)


Addressing Health Inequities and Ensuring Access to Care after Hospital Discharge in Patients with Post-Intensive Care Syndrome due to COVID-19 through Community Health Worker Engagement | Center for Health Outcomes Research and Education at the University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis in St. Louis, Missouri

Post-intensive care syndrome (PICS) is a serious health condition that can develop following hospital discharge from the intensive care unit. The timeline for recovery from PICS can be extended in socially disadvantaged patient populations who may not receive appropriate follow-up care. With CAREs funding, researchers at the Center for Health Outcomes Research and Education will support patients with PICS in the transition to home care following discharge from the hospital by connecting patients with community health workers and pharmacy support. These efforts will aim to provide equitable access to nutrition, health education, and medication management. The findings and methods implemented in this project can be generalized to multidisciplinary teams who provide care for PICS patients across the country.

“I am extremely grateful to the PhRMA CAREs program for this critical early support in my research career. This funding opportunity provides the foundational groundwork for my research projects to be implemented and produce tangible differences in reducing health disparities in critically-ill patients post-hospital discharge. It also allows our center to continue training the next generation of researchers in a longstanding effort to improve health outcomes. With this support, we are able to form and maintain inter-collaborative partnerships with nearby institutions while continuing to generate high-quality research at the center.” – Harrison Yoon, PharmD; Health Outcomes Research Fellow, Center for Health Outcomes Research and Education, University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis (Harrison Yoon, PharmD is pictured above)


Lighthouse Community Health Services Primary Care Service-Learning Clinic: A Community-Based Model of Care to Improve Equitable Access to Treatment and Medication Management | FARRR Foundation in Lynchburg, Virginia

Individuals who have a mental health condition and experience poverty often face numerous social and economic barriers to receiving treatment. The 24501 zip code (in Lynchburg, VA) has a high concentration of poverty and racial inequities due to a history of redlining, a practice of denying home loans to Black and other non-white individuals, and other barriers rooted in institutional racism. Patients living in the 24501 zip code also face barriers to care due to a limited number of primary and mental health care providers. The FARRR Foundation is a faith- and community-based, trauma-informed care organization that is committed to providing social, educational, and clinical support to individuals who are impacted by poverty and mental illness. Using the PhRMA CAREs grant funding, the FARRR Foundation will expand their on-site community-based care services to include primary care, medication referrals, and medication management to individuals experiencing the effects of poverty and mental illness living in the 24501 zip code. Findings from this effort will be used to design a roadmap for other initiatives to improve health equity among patients with mental health conditions in communities with high rates of poverty.

"Per the grant elaboration, racial inequity leads to poorer outcomes for persons of color even when other variables are taken into consideration. This finding is a key reason to allow teaching time to demonstrate to clients the rationale for using mediations for chronic and acute conditions. The time allotted in a typical primary care center is 18 minutes. The Lighthouse Community Health Services plans to be more generous with clients to include adequate time to teach the “why?” A prime example of this occurs with a diabetes diagnosis. Teaching on hyperglycemia’s effects on the body, regarding micro and macro vascular damage, allows the client to understand why medication adherence can prevent long term sequalae such as kidney failure, blindness, and amputations etc. Purposeful teaching time, with feedback from the client, enhances understanding and develops a relationship with the caregiver, both of which result in medication compliance and hence prevention of negative outcomes. – Catherine Kay, PhD, MSN, FNP-C, RN (Terrick Moyer is pictured left and Catherine Kay, PhD, MSN, FNP-C, RN is pictured right)

In addition to supporting the efforts of these organizations to address social determinants of health and improve access to medicines, the PhRMA CAREs grants will support the development of a paper by each grantee on how their activities can inform best practices toward scalable, practical interventions that can be applied to other communities, disease states or public health concerns to advance health equity.

To learn more about PhRMA’s Collaborative Actions to Reach Equity (CAREs) grant program, click here. Learn more about PhRMA’s equity efforts at

i PhRMA. Better Use of Medicines can Improve Health Outcomes and Reduce the Use of Costly Medical Care. Available at:
ii Neiman AB, Ruppar T, Ho M, et al. CDC Grand Rounds: Improving Medication Adherence for Chronic Disease Management — Innovations and Opportunities. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66. DOI:
iii Access to Care: Development of a Medication Access Framework for Quality Measurement. Pharmacy Quality Alliance. March 2019.
iv Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Social Determinants of Health: Know What Affects Health. September 2021. Available at:
v Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity. 2017. Available at:


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