Dr. Edris Kosar aimed to fill a gap when he opened Banadir Pharmacy. After working at large corporate pharmacies, he found himself answering many questions for immigrants who couldn’t speak English. He also noticed that elderly immigrants taking the most medications often couldn’t drive and couldn’t speak English — the most sick were also the most vulnerable, he said.
“I realized there was a vacuum and a need to fill,” he said. “I would take a leap of faith.”
In an effort to help the most vulnerable, Banadir Pharmacy offers free deliveries within a 20-mile range.
“If I can keep that 3 or 4 dollars in their pocket, they can buy a gallon of milk,” he said. “Our motto is let’s take care of them, and they will take care of us.”
Kosar said operating an independent pharmacy allows him more time to talk to patients. He said he was so busy at corporate pharmacies that consultations were limited to three minutes. Larger pharmacies have more bargaining power, he said, but he can still offer less expensive prices at Banadir.
“If I make ends meet, I’m okay,” he said.
He said he’s quick to pick up the phone and consult a patient’s doctor if he discovers someone’s medication isn’t working, or if a patient is experiencing side effects they’re too embarrassed to discuss with the doctor.
“I sleep well at night, because someone somewhere is feeling better because of things that I gave them,” he said.
Kosar grew up in Somalia and Kenya. He remembers watching elders comfort the sick and make concoctions for healing. He found himself wondering what exactly in those concoctions made people feel better.
“Once you’re here and you’re curious, they sky is the limit,” said Kosar, who moved to Minnesota in 1998.
He decided to study at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy when he discovered it was the nation’s first pharmacy school.
Kosar is currently part of a two-year outreach program with A Partnership of Diabetics at Horn Towers. During weekly visits he takes residents’ weights, blood pressures and cholesterol levels and talks about healthy eating and exercise. A similar collaboration with the University of Minnesota and Minnesota Department of Health is underway in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.
The Lake Street Council recently honored Kosar as one of four recipients of the 2017 Community Impact Award. Additional winners include New Horizon Academy, Miguel Zagal of Taqueria La Hacienda and Daniel Farias of Mi Boleto Travel and La Matraca.
Staff at the Lake Street Council said they appreciate Kosar’s long-standing dedication to the area, from his time as an Allina Health employee, to the pharmacy’s early days at a halal meat market, and the expansion last fall at 1 W. Lake St.
“It’s not easy to run an independent pharmacy nowadays,” said Allison Sharkey, executive director. “We were really grateful for the investment he was able to make.”