North Carolina Pharmacy Cares for the Community

Pharmacy Times, February 2022, Volume 88, Issue 2

Owner Amina Abubakar takes great pride in offering counseling services, education, and outreach, as well as vaccinations and compounding.

Amina Abubakar, PharmD, AAHIVP, is the CEO and owner of Avant Pharmacy and Wellness Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. A graduate of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy at University of the Sciences in Pennsylvania, Abubakar started her pharmacy career at a chain pharmacy but soon decided to open a pharmacy to offer more personalized care to patients.

Abubakar wears many hats and has an impressive list of credentials. She is a
clinical pharmacist, a certified human HIV specialty pharmacist, and a preceptor to students from several area pharmacy schools. Avant Pharmacy uses the Eyecon and ScriptPro robot to help fill prescriptions accurately and quickly, freeing the pharmacists to collaborate with physicians and focus on clinical activities.

“Because of our commitment to take care of patients’ needs beyond prescriptions, our pharmacy has established collaborative partnerships with medical providers in our community that have expanded the clinical services we can offer to these patients, such as annual wellness visits, medication-assisted treatment for persons with substance use disorder, remote physiological monitoring, behavioral health integration, and chronic care management,” Abubakar said.

“Our pharmacy offers services beyond filling prescriptions,” she said. “We have pharmacists trained to [treat] patients with different disease states, such as diabetes, substance abuse disorder, HIV, weight loss, and other conditions.”

The pharmacy offers chronic care management, home mobility and safety consults and products, medication compliance packaging, pharmacogenetic testing, remote patient monitoring using various at-home medical devices, travel health immunizations and consults, and weight loss and wellness assistance.

In addition, Avant Pharmacy offers compounding services. Pharmacy staff members frequently compound bioidentical hormones for men and women.

One unique compound made at the pharmacy uses cholestyramine powder in an ointment for diaper rash in babies.

“Cholestyramine is used in the ointment because it binds to bile acids, pulling it away from the skin to promote healing,” Abubakar said.

To make patients feel comfortable and welcome, the pharmacy has patient access specialists who are knowledgeable about helping patients navigate Avant Pharmacy’s products and services.

Abubakar recalled a recent story: She was conducting a community outreach event and was talking to patients in an apartment building about the services their pharmacy offered.

“One lady kept loudly interrupting, saying, ‘My pharmacy does this, too. My pharmacy cares about me, too. My pharmacy packages my medications for me, too. My pharmacy is the best.’ Another participant in the crowd called out to the adamant lady by her full name, asking her to let me finish the presentation. After hearing the lady’s full name, I realized the adamant lady was a patient of mine!” It turns out, the lady received her prescriptions through the pharmacy’s free delivery service, so they had never met face to face. “We were able to have a good laugh about it together,” Abubakar said.

Although delivery service may seem like a no-brainer, she knew her patients needed the service. Without it, many patients would not refill their prescriptions because of transportation issues.

Abubakar has a strong presence in the community, participating in community outreach, education events, and health fairs, and provid- ing vaccinations to patients. “Our pharmacy is successful and strong because of the committed team members [who] use their passion and skill set to build the pharmacy of tomorrow,” Abubakar said.

She is the cofounder and president of the Avant Institute of Clinicians, an online educational forum for pharmacy professionals. In this forum, Abubakar helps other pharmacists develop clinical programs in their pharmacies. She is also involved in pharmacogenomics and visited the FDA and the White House to
talk about pharmacists in pharmacogenomics. In addition, Abubakar participates with the North Carolina Precision Health Collaborative/ Pharmacogenomics Working Group to advance the science in community pharmacy. She won the Bowl of Hygeia Award from the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists in 2020 and the Willard B. Simmons Independent Pharmacist of the Year Award in 2020 from the National Community Pharmacists Association.

In her spare time, Abubakar enjoys water sports, such as scuba diving, as well as traveling. “I love to see life in different countries, cultures, and languages,” she said. Abubakar also participates in medical missions to serve marginalized communities.

Karen Berger, PharmD, is a pharmacist at an independent pharmacy in northern New Jersey.