A local nonprofit is celebrating a huge milestone right now, as it continues its mission to make sure no family goes without lifesaving medicine.
But as people lost their jobs during the pandemic and lost access to health insurance, the pharmacy says it has seen a dramatic increase in need.
"The price of food is going up, the price of gas," said Carlos Irulas, pharmacist in charge at St. Vincent de Paul Pharmacy. "So we are helping families that are making that decision of having enough money to buy formula or food for the for the babies versus buying their insulin."
Last summer, the pharmacy was able to get more funding to expand its services and deliver prescriptions to homes across the state.
Clients live as far away as Brownsville, Austin and Waco. A new partnership in Harris County this summer will bring the delivery service to the Houston area as well.
As of last week, the pharmacy just surpassed the 100,000 prescription mark that has been distributed so far this year alone -- that's $12 million worth of medicine.
Since inception, the pharmacy has distributed $26 million in free prescriptions to qualifying families and individuals. Demand has increased 185% since last year.
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The group still operates out of just one location in Dallas and says it needs all the help it can get to keep the good will going.
"We're actively campaigning to receive funds, to keep this service going to provide access to to all uninsured Texans," said Irulas. "Our mission is to improve the health of all uninsured Texans by providing them access to medications."
He said the need is increasing as the cost of medicine continues to go up, too. For example, the price of insulin has soared in recent months.
"Thankfully, we partner with other organizations and pharmaceutical vendors who will provide us consistent supply of insulin or injectables that are for the diabetic population," said Irulas. "For a three months supply, it could be about $3,000 for an uninsured patient. So this is a type of value that we're providing for people across the state."
The free pharmacy is open to people who don't have health insurance, have a household income at or below 300% the poverty level, and those who live in Texas, even if they're undocumented.
"So that means a family of four could earn up to $83,000 and still qualify for our services," explained Irulas.
Those who are accepted just need a valid shipping address to receive the medicine. Individuals do not have to come into the pharmacy to apply for service.
"Our pharmacy is funded through grants, private donors and foundations. The money that comes to the pharmacy that's donated goes directly to the folks that we're helping -- so it goes to purchasing this medication to facilitating the logistics of getting the medication to the patient's door," said Irulas. "So really, that's the crucial part of sustaining this effort is having the sufficient funding to provide for patients."
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