Who is Mednow? Pharmacist concerned about STUSU’s ‘preferred pharmacy’

    Graph depicting the lack of knowledge for the St. Thomas University Mednow app for student health care. (Daniel Salas/AQ)

    When the St. Thomas University Student Union (STUSU) announced on Oct. 31 that Mednow is its “preferred pharmacy,” Ayub Chisti, the pharmacist at UNB Campus Pharmacy, had his concerns.

    “I was surprised, but [STUSU] said they’re not really recommending any pharmacy,” said Chisti. “People really have to realize that the local pharmacy will give them a better benefit and easy access. If you support the pharmacy, all those benefits are there for you.”

    His concerns about this publicly traded company were not unjustified. Mednow is currently under a court-ordered restructuring process due to a failure to pay off a $3.23 million debt owed to its creditor Alirey Corp. 

    In its inception in August 2021, one stock was worth $2.02 USD, but as of Feb. 23, 2024, it is worth $0.017 USD. 

    This process may end with the sale of Mednow’s assets and subsidiaries leaving the future of the company unknown. The announcement of Mednow’s financial trouble on their website came in November, just after STUSU’s announcement. 

    Related: Competing views on Mednow STUSU’s online “preferred pharmacy”

    The online pharmacy Mednow offers prescriptions and over-the-counter medicine delivered to your door. The service, used through an app, also has a chat or call service with a pharmacist every day of the week.

    It also has subsidiaries spanning across the country as well as four physical locations. The closest physical location to STU is in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

    Aside from concerns about the financial state of Mednow, Chisti has other questions about online pharmacies.

    Chisti said he’d “never badmouth anyone else,” but when it comes to pharmacies people need to look at the services provided and whether their needs are met.

    The worry above anything else for Chisti is the reliability of a corporate online service that sends their prescriptions through mail. He said that people will have to decide to take the risk that their medicine may arrive elsewhere.

    “The medicine can go to the wrong place. How many of you have used food services and found out that it never arrived at your doorstep? when you talk about medicine that’s a very serious business,” he said. “If you don’t have somebody that you can see face-to-face you don’t know how they’re made.”

    Ahmik Burneo, STUSU vice president administration, said when the Campus Trust met in June there was no discussion of Mednow’s financial position. Campus Trust is an organization that administers benefits to a group of Canadian universities including STU.

    Burneo also added that STUSU doesn’t have any financial relationship with Mednow.

    “It never meant we are giving money to them, which was one of our main concerns … It never meant giving money, just making that post and expanding the services and benefits for students,” said Burneo.

    He added that Mednow is an option for students and STUSU is “not trying to encourage any students or advertise one pharmacy over the other.”

    Burneo said STUSU has no data on how many students are using the service.

    The Campus Pharmacy has not heard from STUSU since their Mednow announcement, but Chisti is open to talking about his services.

    “I think [STUSU] do realize there’s a lot of benefits when people come here. There are a lot of fees waived … We do minor ailment prescribing, we do injections, all those things are part of the benefit of having a pharmacy on campus,” he said.

    STUSU is also open to talking with Chisti and considers their relationship as already being “very good.”

    “We are aware that people enjoy having that point of contact, that close relationship with Campus Pharmacy,” said Burneo. “We’re always open to have conversations in which we can enhance the relationship and improve.”

    Campus Pharmacy will be moving to the Student Union Building in the summer, which will allow them “to provide more benefits” for students.