Success Story: WBRZ-TV Raises Funds for Medicines

Apr 11, 2005  •  Post A Comment

The rising cost of prescription drugs can keep some elderly and impoverished people from getting the medication they need, but WBRZ-TV’s Fill a Prescription for the Needy promotion tried to prevent that from happening for Baton Rouge, La., residents.

The ABC affiliate offered a promotional campaign to the Baton Rouge Clinic that solicited donations from viewers to help cover the costs of filling prescriptions for those who can’t otherwise afford their medications.

Two 15-second spots running back to back aired about five times a day from Feb. 9 through March 28, said Ronald Bates, one of the station’s marketing assistants. The ads featured the Louisiana TV Broadcasting-owned station’s chief weather forecaster, Pat Shingleton, walking through a pharmacy discussing the benefits of a prescription program run by a local charity.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul operates a community “pharmacy of last resort” that fills prescriptions free of charge for residents who meet certain low-income eligibility requirements, the society’s CEO Michael Acaldo said in a phone interview. “About 45 to 50 people come through our pharmacy every day. For every person we serve we fill multiple prescriptions. We fill about 3,500 prescriptions a month with a retail value of $180,000. Last year we provided about $2.5 million worth,” he said.

Viewers were asked to deposit contributions into canisters that resembled oversize prescription pill containers and that were placed in various retail outlets and other locations throughout the city. The promotional campaign, in its fifth year, is expected this year to pull in more than last year’s $60,000 worth of donations.

“Not a lot of people knew about this program until Pat Shingleton, WBRZ and the Baton Rouge Clinic got involved,” Mr. Acaldo said. “It is amazing to see the response.”