'The need is great': Dallas charitable pharmacy expanding despite rising drug prices

Dallas charitable pharmacy expanding even as drug prices soar

DALLAS (CBSNewsTexas.com) — The St. Vincent de Paul Pharmacy in Dallas fills nearly 10,000 prescriptions each month at no cost to clients. So, when Margarita Trujillo calls it a life saver, she means it.

"I wouldn't buy my medication. There was no way for me to afford a three-month supply at a local retailer," she shared through a translator while waiting to pick up a prescription. "So, I simply wouldn't take it."

Trujillo works but says she can't afford the employee share of the premiums, meaning she has no prescription coverage to help manage her diabetes: $1,300 for a three-month supply.

"It was at the point where I either paid rent, or paid for my medication," she explained.

Her church told her about St. Vincent de Paul. Since 2018, the charitable pharmacy has filled some 200,000 free prescriptions for working clients often left with no options.

Now, they're they're looking to expand to other Texas cities by using mail order prescription delivery. 

"The need is great," says pharmacist-in-charge Carlos Irula.

Irula began volunteering with the non-profit in 2018. He says he was working for a big-name pharmacy but was searching for a different kind of fulfillment. "Knowing a patient needed this medication and me telling them it's gonna be $500 a month, and knowing that patient is not going to take it anymore or at all and there's no alternative for them...My hands were tied. I really just prayed and asked God to give me an opportunity to make an impact."

Before coming to St. Vincent de Paul, Irula says it was common for clients to skip doses to ration medications they struggled to afford. 

"That's why we're here," Irula says. "To help people feel well, to be able to work...and stay out of the ER."

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