Partnership with San José Clinic, dispensary and drug manufacturers benefits patients

February 11, 2020

From left to right, San José Clinic president and CEO Maureen Sanders, Dispensary of Hope CEO Chris Palombo, and San José Clinic pharmacy resident Randall Flores are part of a partnership providing low-cost medication to patients. (Photo courtesy of San José Clinic)

HOUSTON — Even when 56-year-old prison guard Gilbert Ruiz survived a major heart attack and had stents placed in his arteries, he couldn’t afford the 12 medications prescribed to keep him alive afterward.

“I told the doctors, ‘you should have just let me die because there’s no way I can pay for all these medications,’” said Ruiz, since retired.

Now a patient at San José Clinic in Houston, which cares for low-income and uninsured patients, Ruiz pays $10 for his medicines when he visits the clinic’s onsite pharmacy. A patient pays a $10 fee per pharmacy visit at the clinic, whether they have one prescription to fill or many.

“At first, I thought it was a mistake,” he said of the low cost. “But taking these pills have kept me out of the hospital.”
He is among the thousands of patients benefiting from a five-year partnership between the San José Clinic and the Dispensary of Hope. The dispensary is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing charitable clinics and pharmacies with medication donated by pharmaceutical manufacturers, which then receive a tax credit.

San José Clinic president and CEO Maureen Sanders, in a media conference Jan. 23 announcing the partnership’s five-year anniversary, said working with the Dispensary of Hope has allowed the clinic to fill 25,000 prescriptions worth $64 million to their patients just this past year.

“We are so grateful for the contributions from the Dispensary of Hope and the participating pharmaceutical manufacturers,” Sanders said.

Sanders said the value of drugs obtained include those through a Patient Assistance Program in which the clinic enrolls eligible patients.

After paying an annual nominal membership fee to the Dispensary of a few thousand dollars, the clinic more than makes up for that in cost-savings from the donated medication, she said.

“This partnership helps us reduce clinic costs, especially in not needing to purchase or keep a large inventory on hand. We can order it as needed,” Sanders said.

Dispensary of Hope CEO Chris Palombo said his organization over the past 10 years has grown similar partnerships from 60 clinics to more than 200 sites, including San José Clinic, supported by the Archdiocese.

“We measure success in lives and health improved,” Palombo said.

San José Clinic medical director Diana Grair, MD, and San José Clinic pharmacy resident Randall Flores said the clinic has an average of five prescriptions per patient, especially to treat diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Jamie Matthews, general manager and vice president of operations for Mylan, a global pharmaceutical company offering more than 7,500 products, said his company donates as part of its being a “good corporate citizen.”

The company includes prescription generic, branded generic, brand-name and biosimilar drugs, as well as over-the-counter remedies, he said.

“There is a sincere appreciation of what we are able to accomplish together,” Matthews said of the partnership.
These clinic partnerships also help area hospitals keep their medical care costs down since the donated medication maintains patients’ health and they avoid trips to emergency rooms, the partners said.