Flu Shot Delays Being Reported Around the Country

Tisane Pharmacist, Janet DiStefano interview on October 2, 2014:

NEW YORK (PIX11) – According to the CDC, flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. between December and February.

However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May, according to the CDC.

In Connecticut, the Department of Public Health says there is a shipment delay with some manufacturers affecting the supply for individuals 5 years or older, but a spokesperson says by the time flu season comes they expect to be in full supply

The New York City Health Department says while there is no shortage of flu vaccines here in the city, the Department can confirm a delay with some manufacturers.

The City’s Health Department says there is ample vaccine right now.

This year, it’s been very interesting,” said Janet Distefano of Tisane Pharmacy. “Starting last week I had a number of people coming in which I didn’t see last year.”

Prescriptions With a Personal Touch


An independent drug store brings a European feel to E. 86th Street

UPPER EAST SIDE With a Duane Reade seemingly on every corner, New Yorkers have become accustomed to the impersonal drugstore experience. But two women continue to prove that independent, customer-focused pharmacies aren’t relics of the past.

Pharmacists Yelena Yosse and Inna Shafir opened the Tisane Pharmacy on East 86th street in 2011, pairing a pharmacy and a café to treat New Yorkers to an unusually friendly drugstore experience. Both women moved to New York from Russia, and have lived here for more than 20 years. They noticed the many chain pharmacies popping up, and were disappointed that New Yorkers weren’t able to develop personal relationships with their pharmacists.

“Both Yelena and myself have been living in New York for 20 years, and in all that time never found a pharmacy that had the type of personal customer service people deserved,” Shafir said. “The café makes the entire storefront feel more connected to the community, it offers a place for people to come in and hang out.”

Walking through the bright blue doors of Tisane, customers are greeted by the café and seating area. At first it seems like just another quaint coffee shop, filled with people reading the New York Times and sipping on herbal tea. The barista joked that no café is more community-based, because he had just received a text from one of his regular customers, sending in his drink order.

Toward the back are shelves lined with both American and European products, and several friendly pharmacists at the back counter, filling prescriptions and taking orders over the phone. They’re both often waving at customers, knowing almost all of them by name.

“I’ve been a pharmacist for 39 years and I’m happy to have found Tisane because it is a real community pharmacy,” said Janet Distefano, who works as a compounding pharmacist. “We get so many people who come to us from Duane Reade and CVS, because of our personal service that they do not get there. Those places have people waiting an hour for prescriptions, where we only take 5-10 minutes.”

By offering prescriptions, compounding, herbal medicine, homeopathy, European skin care, prescription delivery, and blister packaging, Tisane has quickly become a favorite among Upper East Side residents. Blister packaging is a unique medication management service in which they pre-pour medications, label each prescription with the time of day in which to take each prescription, and deliver to the client’s home.

Services like this make Tisane stand out in a neighborhood that is mostly populated by senior citizens. Through partnerships with various home care agencies, they are able to deliver blister packages to all five boroughs.

In addition to such personalized pharmaceutical services, Tisane has also become a regular hangout for many Upper East Side residents.

“Our café has become a great place for the community to hang out, we like to call it our senior citizen happy hour because so many locals stop by so often,” joked Allison Fleece. Fleece joined the Tisane team six months ago as the marketing manager to let people know the different services they offer, since they were losing so much foot traffic to the 2nd avenue subway construction.

“I think anytime New Yorkers find a place that offers genuine service they fall in love with it,” Fleece said. “Yelena and Ina were really inspired to open up a place that felt like a French café, and 1950’s style community pharmacy. Mostly a place where the community could come together and enjoy a decent cup of coffee, read the paper on one of our bar stools, while getting their prescriptions filled.”

 See also full article, here:

A Cure For The Common Chain

A pair of pharmacists with a soda fountain
offer a cozy alternative to Duane Reade.

Walking into the Upper East Side’s Tisane Pharmacy, at 340 E. 86th St., is like stepping back into old-time New York — or into a small-town European drugstore.

On a recent afternoon, people lined up at the counter, waiting for their prescriptions to be filled or just sitting down for a coffee or tea (“tisane” is the French word for herbal tea). There’s even an old-fashioned soda fountain, its huge conical dispensers storing colorful syrups for making egg creams, and Italian and cream sodas.

“There are lots of chains, but there aren’t many cute little places [on the Upper East Side],” says Yelena Yoffe, who opened Tisane late last year with fellow pharmacist and friend Inna Shafir. Each also owns another independent pharmacy — Yoffe in Washington Heights and Shafir in Fairlawn, N.J. “Everybody is saying they love it, and it’s exactly what the neighborhood needs — a small place,” she adds.

Owners Yelena Yoffe (left) and Inna Shafir stock Tisane with hard-to-find European goodies. Photo: Eilon Paz

Regulars Jacqueline Lilinshtein and Shoshanna Levine, both 26-year-old students and roommates who live in the area, were sitting at the counter around 2 p.m. on a Friday.

“I like it because it’s one of the only places where you can sit and have a quiet coffee without all the hustle and bustle,” says Lilinshtein.

“I do get prescriptions filled; I’m actually waiting for my doctor to call in a prescription [now]. But I come here probably three or four times a week, and I only fill a prescription once a month. They have this green tea I can’t find anywhere else.

” Plus, Levine adds, “They sell nicer things here.”

Shafir and Yoffe see their cozy pharmacy-cafe as the antithesis to the Duane Reades and Rite Aids of the city. Regulars drop by in the morning on their way to work or after the school run, then trickle back in the evening — with old-timers stopping by mid-morning and afternoon.

“It’s really hearkening back to what a lot of people remember of this old drug-store culture, where mom and dad have stuff that they need to get in the store, and the kids pop up to the bar, get an iced soda,” says 24-year-old Ben Lundberg, Tisane’s barista.

“[But] there’s also this really interesting Russian influence to the cafe, too,” he points out.

Those conical syrup dispensers, for example, come from Russia. “It’s actually something the owners themselves remembered from their childhood, and looked all over for and took great pains to get them over here,” he explains.

From special types of tea to French sleeping pills, Tisane offers a trip back in time on the Upper East Side. Photo: Eilon Paz

Shafir and Yoffe, who met in pharmacy school in Russia, were inspired by the type of cafe-pharmacies they remember from their youth, and from traveling throughout Europe.

“Not everyone [in New York] understands this concept of coffee and a pharmacy yet,” admits Shafir.

But some immediately get it: “A lot of people come in and say, ‘Oh, it’s so nice, it reminds me of pharmacies in France, or pharmacies in Spain,’ ” says Yoffe. The owners understand the nuances of what they stock — and are available to answer questions beyond prescriptions. Alongside Advil, NyQuil and Neutrogena, you’ll find brands from all over the world — including the German Dr. Hauschka skin care line, French sleeping pills, Israeli natural-beauty brand Frulatte, British cult hair-care company Klorane and Himalaya, an old Indian herbal company.

It’s a more personalized experience than what you would find at the type of chain pharmacy where Yoffe once worked.

“I didn’t like the experience,” she says. “The whole setup — the way you don’t have time to interact with people and you’re not helpful to them because of the amount of things you have to do.

” At Tisane, there are homeopathic remedies (rose hips, bee pollen, ground flaxseed) and even honey — in clover, raw and comb form. Besides Dial, there’s “black mud” and “pine tar” soap. And 37 blends of specialty tea, from Ceylon to Darjeeling, to black, green and fruity Russian-style blends.

“We are trying to put some different stuff on the shelves,” explains Shafir. “Because the regular stuff you can find in the supermarket already. And if you’re buying something different, it’s better to buy in a pharmacy. Here, you have a professional who can answer your questions. You can’t ask a question in a supermarket.”

Uptown Meets Small Town at New Manhattan Pharmacy/Café


Long dominated by national chains, most modern pharmacies bear little resemblance to their ancestors. Gone are the soda fountains, the local owners, the neighborhood feel, and the space for community members to meet and catch up. Gone, that is, until Inna Shafir and Yelena Yoffe came along.

Tisane Pharmacy, which combines the intimacy of a cozy local café with the convenience of a fully functioning pharmacy, opened at 340 East 86th Street on Labor Day. Since then, Tisane has quickly become a community hub on the Upper East Side-which is exactly what Shafir and Yoffe had in mind when they envisioned it.

“We’re both pharmacists, and neither of us had any desire whatsoever to go to work for the chains,” says Yoffe. “When we decided to open our own store, we didn’t want it to be just another place where people could pick up their medications. People are disconnected from each other enough as it is. We wanted it to be inviting, to have a real community feel, which is what pharmacies in this country used to have.” While the inspiration for the pharmacy was distinctly American, Tisane has a charmingly European feel to it, complete with product lines from France, Germany, Israel and other countries.

And unlike the pharmacies of yesteryear, Tisane takes a uniquely modern approach to wellness that reflects Yoffe and Shafir’s holistic training.

Homeopathic and herbal remedies and skin care products sit side by side with traditional Western remedies. The menu for the café features organic teas and coffees, gluten-free pastries and locally baked muffins. Even the soda fountain features organic syrups rather than the usual sugary fare. Then, of course, there’s the pharmacy itself, which Shafir insists is unique as well.

“People tend to think that prices for prescriptions are cheaper at the chain stores, but actually the opposite is true.” Customers who are paying for their prescriptions out of pocket or as a percentage of the full cost notice the difference right away, Shafir says. She adds that the free prescription delivery for local residents is also faster than the chains, which contract with outside vendors rather than making the deliveries themselves.

The biggest difference, of course, is the space itself. In the few months Tisane has been open, it has already become a mainstay for local residents-and that, for Yoffe, is the greatest reward. “A woman recently came up to me and said ‘I’m so glad you’re here—you’re exactly what this neighborhood needs.’ That’s pretty much all I needed to hear.”

Tisane Pharmacy is located in Manhattan at 340 East 86th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues and is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 8pm, Saturdays from 9am to 7pm and Sundays from 9am to 5pm. Their phone number is (212) 517-0037 and their web site is

The New Old: Tisane Pharmacy Blends European, American, Past, Present Elements


NEW YORK — One of the advantages to independent pharmacies’ small scale is their ability to forge their own identities and invent new store formats in a way that might be harder for a national or regional chain. New York, with its famously competitive pharmacy market and diverse population, has long been a hotspot for new store formats, and one of the products of this dynamic environment is Tisane Pharmacy, located in Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Pharmacy school classmates Inna Shafir and Yelena Yoffe opened the store on Labor Day with the idea of creating a pharmacy that emphasized natural care and comfort. Both also own pharmacies elsewhere in the city. The store’s most visible feature is the cafe counter near the entrance, a feature that used to be common in American drug stores — which gave rise to the soda jerk — but has mostly disappeared. The cafe serves coffee, tea, pastries and sodas made with syrups dispensed from a glass apparatus that Shafir and Yoffe had to have a friend personally bring over from their native Russia.

Another reason for the cafe is that it gives patients — or their kids — something to do while they’re waiting for prescriptions to be filled. “What we try to achieve is a friendly environment,” Yoffe told Drug Store News. But another distinctive feature is the store’s focus on natural products, as well as hard-to-find brands imported from France, Germany, Poland, Israel and other countries.

The store also carries a large selection of herbal teas, reflective of its name, which is a term for herbal tea. “That’s what we both like, and that was the idea, to promote healthy teas,” Yoffe said, recalling how when she would frequently get sick as a child, her grandmother would give her raspberry leaf tea to bring down her fevers. “As much as the dynamic is characteristically American, it’s also reminiscent of Europe,” cafe manager Ben Lundberg said.

Lundberg and Yoffe said the cafe had become popular among people in the area, especially those trying to get away from the noise resulting from construction of New York’s 2nd Avenue subway. “It’s really turned into a neighborhood spot,” Lundberg said.