SIRUM | 2020


Leveraging medicine donation to make life-saving prescriptions more affordable for all Americans

SIRUM has a bold plan to expand access to affordable medicine through drug recycling. They will deploy $770M in life-saving medicine to the 10 million low-income adults in America most in need.

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Medications are one of the most effective health interventions available. Yet, in the US, more people die each year from not taking their medicine than from opioid overdoses and car accidents combined. Hardest hit are the 10 million low-income adults with achronic illness who are uninsured or under-insured and cannot afford the medicine they need. One-third of uninsured adults have said they stopped taking medications as prescribed because of cost. Even with insurance, half of the people earning less than $35,000 a year don’t fill prescriptions if their insurance doesn't cover it. Many health plans now have high deductibles, and drug pricing can vary wildly across suppliers and locations. These barriers make it increasingly difficult for low-income families to afford life-saving care. And yet, there’s a huge untapped source of medications: an estimated $5-11 billion in surplus medications each year that is discarded or ends up in incinerators.

Big Idea

SIRUM is leveraging existing Good Samaritan laws in over 40 states that allow for the donation of safe, unexpired medication to redistribute life-saving medicines to millions of low-income adults. With Audacious investment over the next five years, SIRUM will get $772 million worth of medication to one million people who need it most, utilizing an innovative platform to build a highly scalable solution that will reach 70% of the 10 million most in need by 2030. By growing their supply of donated medicines by more than tenfold, expanding patient access to seven new states, and optimizing their platform for sustainability and scale, SIRUM will create opportunities for a more transparent, equitable, and affordable marketplace for medicine.


For medicine donors like manufacturers, nursing homes, and pharmacies, the program works like recycling. SIRUM places simple “recycling” boxes in their facilities, arranges the collection of unopened, unexpired medicine, and redistributes them to those in need.  For patients who need life-saving medicine that they can’t afford, the system is just as simple. They pair them with a recipient partner - a charitable clinic or pharmacy. After a one-time, five-minute registration carried out over the phone or online, patients send their prescriptions from their doctor’s office to be matched with a consistent supply of over 500 of the most common medications (SIRUM’s inventory currently covers 75% of all drugs prescribed  — excluding opioids). The medication can then be picked up at one of their recipient partners or delivered to the patient’s home. This patented, tech-enabled process allows each patient’s prescription(s) to be filled for an average of just $2 a month.           

Why will this succeed?

As the nation’s largest nonprofit medicine redistributor, SIRUM is a national expert on surplus drug donation and has helped shape donation laws and policies for a dozen states. Since 2013, they have operated the only end-to-end tracking platform for donated medicines under these laws. Through their patented process, they have provided $68 million worth of prescription medication, helping over 150,000 patients.

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