Trouble paying for needed medicines? The Dispensary of Hope may help

Some 1,000 medical practices across the U.S. are donating drug samples they’d otherwise destroy (worth tens of millions) to a 30-location med dispensary system that’s handing out 100,000 prescriptions a year to low-income patients, and continues to expand.

The Dispensary of Hope ( is a young and growing not-for-profit network of prescription drug contributors, collection and distribution sites, and dispensing medical centers – all designed to assist people who can’t afford needed drugs (income below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines) and lack the insurance to cover them.

Founded in 2003, the Dispensary of Hope collects medication from a variety of sources including physicians’ offices and drug distributors and manufacturers, who send their donated medications and excess inventory.

Then the Dispensary’s centralized inventory system processes these shipments and distributes medications as requested by its growing network of dispensing sites – now numbering more than 30 clinics, hospital & retail pharmacies, and health departments. These sites in turn dispense the drugs they receive from the Dispensary of Hope directly to patients at no or very low cost. (See “How it Works.” )

To date, according to the Dispensary for Hope, they have systematically:

• Collected and distributed tens of millions of dollars worth of pharmaceuticals for those in need.

• Built a contributing network that includes 1,000-some physicians who regularly donate sample medications, as well as donations and excess inventory from sources such as distributors and manufacturers. In the U.S., pharmaceutical companies distribute to physicians more than $15 to $18 billion worth of free samples annually, of which an estimated $3.5 billion goes unused, with the average physician’s office destroying 30% to 40% of samples received.

• Built a network of dispensing sites. (See the Dispensary’s linked list of participating distribution centers, and click on any link for contact information.)

• Constructed a mail-order pharmacy to provide direct patient access to assistance programs.

• Built a software system to manage inventory, track patient records and ensure pharmaceutical pedigree.

• Delivered a twenty to one return on investment to the community while alleviating bad debt for community hospitals.

Expansion to Continue – How to Get Involved
Although the dispensing partners so far tend to be concentrated in certain areas, the Dispensary of Hope will continue to expand nationally, and welcomes inquiries from groups interested in becoming, encouraging or contributing to a dispensary in their area .

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