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← You shouldn't have to choose between filling your prescriptions and paying bills

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Showing Revision 7 created 09/18/2020 by Erin Gregory.

  1. Every day in this country,
  2. families are forced to make
    impossible choices
  3. when it comes to their health care.
  4. Like Kimberly, who said,
  5. "There was times I had to choose
    between my food and my pills.
  6. It wasn't luxury stuff,
    because I didn't make that much.
  7. It was like, 'Can I get
    shampoo or conditioner?'
  8. Things you take for granted."
  9. And Debbie, who said,
  10. "You put your medicine in one hand,
  11. your living costs in the other.
  12. OK. Well, what am I going to do?
  13. Am I going to get my medicine
  14. or am I going to pay my bills?
  15. Well, I can't live without my medicine,
  16. but I can't live if I don't pay my bills."
  17. Ten thousand people die
    every month in this country,

  18. because they don't take
    the medicine that they need.
  19. More people die
    from not taking medications
  20. than opioid overdoses
    and car accidents combined.
  21. But you can't take medicine
    if you can't afford it.
  22. Today, the average household
    spends 3,000 dollars a year

  23. on medications.
  24. About a third of folks who are uninsured
  25. said that they stopped
    taking medicine as prescribed
  26. because of cost.
  27. Even folks with insurance,
  28. if they make under 35,000 dollars a year,
  29. half of them report
    skipping the medications
  30. if their insurance doesn't cover it.
  31. So there are 10 million adults
    like Kimberly and like Debbie
  32. who are forced to make
    impossible choices every day.
  33. We all know that prescription
    drug prices are too high.

  34. And our health care system,
  35. that makes some folks uninsured
    and other folks underinsured,
  36. doesn't prioritize
    people who need access now
  37. and need medications now.
  38. Ten million -- it's a big number,

  39. but it's also a solvable number,
  40. because there's also 10 billion dollars
  41. of perfectly good, unused medication
  42. that goes to waste.
  43. So this is an injustice on two sides:
  44. people not getting the medicine
    that they need to survive and to thrive,
  45. and that very same medication
    being sent to a medical waste incinerator
  46. to be destroyed.
  47. This waste is unconscionable,
    but it also offers an opportunity.
  48. I started SIRUM,

  49. a not-for-profit technology company,
    with my cofounders Adam and George,
  50. to turn discarded medications
    into a lifeline,
  51. just like the medications
    in this warehouse.
  52. We may not be able to fix
  53. all the ways in which
    our health care system is failing us,
  54. but we can fix this one.
  55. Medications come from manufacturers
    and wholesalers who have safety stock,

  56. and when it's short-dated,
    they destroy it.
  57. It also comes from health care facilities
  58. like hospitals, pharmacies
    and nursing homes,
  59. who end up with surplus
    when a patient stops taking medication
  60. or when they pass away.
  61. We can use this untapped
    source of medications
  62. to supply all 10 million people
    who need medications.
  63. And we can do this today.
  64. SIRUM gets surplus medications

  65. by putting recycling bins into
    these hundreds of facilities
  66. that have surplus.
  67. They fill the bin,
    and when the box is full,
  68. SIRUM initiates a courier pickup
    to pick up that medication,
  69. and we handle the shipping, the tracking,
    the manifests and the tax receipt.
  70. Medicine donors want to donate
    because it's actually cheaper and easier

  71. than the highly regulated
    medicine destruction process.
  72. And there are strong tax incentives
    to actually donate.
  73. We then deliver those donated medications
    to people who need it.
  74. A new prescription comes in,
  75. and our platform matches that patient need
    with the inventory that's available.
  76. Our platform then generates
    a warehouse pick list,
  77. the medications are picked
    and the prescriptions filled.
  78. We are building the 21st-century
    pharmacy experience
  79. that low-income families deserve.
  80. Patients can register
    in under five minutes
  81. and have access to
    over 500 different medications,
  82. a stable list of medications
    for everything from heart disease
  83. to mental health conditions,
  84. actually representing over 75 percent
    of all prescriptions prescribed
  85. in the United States today.
  86. We also partner with a network of doctors,
    nurses and case managers

  87. at community health centers
    and free clinics
  88. that refer patients to the service.
  89. We make it as easy
    for these health care providers
  90. to have a prescription filled
    with donated medications
  91. as it is to send a prescription
    to a local pharmacy.
  92. And patients can pick up medications
    on-site at one of our partners
  93. or have medications delivered
    directly to their home.
  94. By circumventing
    the traditional supply chain,
  95. we're able to offer flat,
    transparent pricing --
  96. about two dollars for a month's supply
    of most medications.
  97. And that allows a predictable,
    affordable price
  98. that folks can actually budget for.
  99. We've already supplied enough medication
    for 150,000 people.

  100. But we can do more.
  101. Our goal is to reach one million people
  102. with approaching a billion dollars
    of unused medicine
  103. in the next five years,
  104. scaling our program to 12 states.
  105. At this scale, we can actually cover
    communities that are home
  106. to 40 percent of the 10 million people
  107. who lack consistent, affordable access.
  108. Our direct service to one million people
  109. will drive price competition
    for so many more.
  110. Walmart launched one of the only
    price innovations in pharmacy

  111. in 2006,
  112. by offering a limited list of medications
  113. for a flat fee of four dollars.
  114. This sparked incredible change.
  115. It sparked competitors
    to offer other lists
  116. and price match guarantees.
  117. By targeting transparent,
    affordable medications
  118. into these new states,
  119. we can actually drive
    regional price competition
  120. that drives down the prices
    for entire low-income communities.
  121. Our health care system is complex.

  122. It is daunting.
  123. It feels impossible to make headway.
  124. But we can completely
    reimagine medicine access.
  125. By using surplus medications
    as a beachhead to force change
  126. into this multibillion dollar industry,
  127. we can create radical access
    to medications
  128. based on a fundamental belief
  129. that people who live in one of
    the wealthiest nations in the world
  130. can and should have access
    to medicine that they need
  131. to survive and to thrive.
  132. I do not pretend to have
    all of the answers

  133. to fix all of the problems
    in our health care system.
  134. But getting medications
    to the millions of people
  135. who need it to live a healthy life,
  136. saving medicine to save lives --
  137. that is something we can do today.
  138. Thank you.