A non-profit pharmacy in Dallas celebrated a major milestone last week after filling its 100,000th prescription. According to NBC 5, that equals $12 million of free medicine for North Texas families.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Dallas opened the pharmacy in 2018, and it was the first of its kind in Texas. It provides free medicine to individuals and families who qualify.
Pharmacy clients come from Austin, Waco, and Brownsville. NBC 5 reports the pharmacy will soon expand services and delivery to Houston in Harris County.
According to Carlos Irulas, the pharmacist who is in charge at St. Vincent de Paul Pharmacy, the group only has one location in Dallas.
“We’re actively campaigning to receive funds to keep this service going to provide access to all uninsured Texans,” Irulas told NBC 5. “Our mission is to improve the health of all uninsured Texans by providing them access to medications.”
Since last year, demand for the pharmacy has increased by 185%. Irulas shared that the increasing price of necessities has increased their clientele.
“The price of food is going up, the price of gas. So we are helping families that are making that decision of having enough money to buy formula or food for the babies versus buying their insulin,” he said.
According to Irulas, rising prescription costs have also led to increased demand.
“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. For a [three-month] 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,” Irulas said.
Those living in Texas with no insurance and a household income that is either at or below 300% of the poverty level might be eligible for the St. Vincent de Paul Pharmacy services.
Anyone who seeks acceptance has to have a valid shipping address, according to the pharmacy.
“Our pharmacy is funded through grants, private donors, and foundations,” Irulas explained. “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. So really, that’s the crucial part of sustaining this effort, is having the sufficient funding to provide for patients.”
The pharmacy’s chief executive officer, Michael Pazzaglini, told NBC in April 2021 that it took a change in the law to open the non-profit organization.
“We actually had to work with a state legislator to get the law changed to allow for a free-standing pharmacy,” Pazzaglini said. “It’s a nuance. Up until that point, if you had a pharmacy that you wanted to get running, then you had to associate it with a clinic. Patients would go to a clinic and get diagnosed, then get the prescription filled by the clinic. The change in the law allowed us to put a free-standing pharmacy in place independent of the clinic, allowing us to serve multiple clinics and multiple people.”
Since opening in 2018, the pharmacy has provided $26 million worth of prescriptions to qualifying Texans at no charge.