Freedom Pharmacy in Pickerington offers self-pay, compounding options

Nate Ellis
ThisWeek group
Nate Hux, center, opened Freedom Pharmacy, 641 Hill Road N., Suite C, in December next to Pickerington Pharmacy, which he also owns. Also in the photo are Jessica Ayres, office manager, and Kristen Pfeiffer, pharmacist in charge.

A new pharmacy in Pickerington is offering an alternative way to purchase prescriptions.   

On Dec. 3, Nate Hux, a state-licensed pharmacist, opened Freedom Pharmacy at 641 Hill Road N., Suite C next to Pickerington Pharmacy, a business in operation since 1990 and purchased by Hux in January 2016.  

Both businesses are independent pharmacies governed by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy.   

Freedom Pharmacy, however, is a pharmacy that Hux, 47, said can operate without insurance companies or pharmacy benefit managers. In some cases, that can result in a lower price for some medications. Patrons also can use insurance at Freedom Pharmacy.  

 “Opening Freedom Pharmacy was definitely about implementing a different business model outside of the traditional insurance model,” Hux said.   

“Because Freedom Pharmacy lives outside of the insurance-controlled world, we can offer services like self-pay generics, compounding and mail order at very good prices for the consumer.”   

Hux said traditional pharmacies, including Pickerington Pharmacy, operate with pharmacy benefit managers, third-party administrators of prescription drug programs for commercial health plans, self-insured employer plans, Medicare Part D plans, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and state government employee plans.  

At Freedom Pharmacy, Hux said, need only a prescription from a licensed health-care provider.   

Hux said his self-pay model differs from traditional pharmacies because a prescription is processed through the insurance system copays or coinsurance prices, which can be higher than cash prices.  

Freedom Pharmacy prices drugs by using its cost to obtain the medication, plus a service fee.   

Hux cited a 30-day prescription of Bupropion XL 300-miligram tablets, which is commonly used to treat depression. He said when a claim is submitted to an insurance company by a traditional pharmacy, the insurance company typically replies that the patient's copay is $30.17. The Freedom Pharmacy price is $11.65.   

“We make profits off of pharmacy services, not by marking up medications,” said Hux, who added there are times when using insurance will result in lower costs. 

Hux said the two pharmacies have a total of nine employees, including himself. Five employees split time between both businesses.   

“Nate’s passion shines through,” Pickerington Mayor Lee Gray said. “He wants to take care of his customers and help them the best way he can.   

“I think what he’s doing with Freedom Pharmacy is an innovative new way to think about prescriptions. The concept of actually being able to look at the price of a medication on a menu, like at a restaurant, is unique. The patient is in control and having options is always a good thing.”   

Hux said Freedom Pharmacy also delivers non-narcotic medications in the “greater Pickerington area,” Hux said.  

“We can also mail prescriptions to people that live outside of the delivery area if they wish,” he said.   

Freedom Pharmacy also offers medication compounding, which Hux described as “preparing customized medications for patients,” including animals.   

Through the service, under guidance from prescribing physicians, the pharmacy will adjust the strengths of medications to meet patients’ specific needs or add flavors to make them more palatable.   

Hux said the decision to keep Pickerington Pharmacy as a separate pharmacy was driven by remaining expenses he has from that purchase and because of its established customer base.   

“I need both business models to provide services for as many patients as possible,” Hux said.     

nellis@thisweeknews.com   

@ThisWeekNate