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Prescription drugs

Syracuse Hospital will provide free prescription drugs to uninsured residents of Onondaga County

Syracuse, NY – Uninsured Onondaga County residents with limited income will be able to get free insulin and other prescription medications starting July 24 at the Upstate Community Hospital Outpatient Pharmacy at 5000 West Seneca Turnpike.

Upstate will get the drugs from the Dispensary of Hope, a national nonprofit drug distributor that collects billions of doses of excess drugs that would otherwise be destroyed and donates them to those in need.

To be eligible, patients must be uninsured and have an income at or below 300% of the federal poverty level. For a single person, 300% of the federal poverty level means an annual income of $40,770.

Eligible patients must also have a prescription to obtain the drugs.

Darryl Geddes, a spokesperson for Upstate, said the program would be a great option for people who don’t qualify for Medicaid, the government’s health insurance program for low-income and disabled people. Medicaid serves patients at or below 133% of the federal poverty level.

About 5% of Onondaga County residents under age 65 are uninsured, according to U.S. Census data.

Medications available will include drugs to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stomach ulcers, diabetes and more.

One of the medications available will be insulin, a diabetes medication that can cost up to $300 per vial.

Upstate said in an announcement that its hospital and clinics often see patients who cannot afford medication.

Dispensary of Hope was started in Nashville, Tennessee in 2003 by a doctor who worked with the local medical community to donate unused drug samples to free clinics and pharmacies. It now receives donated drugs directly from manufacturers and distributors and distributes them to more than 200 sites nationwide.

Upstate will become the state’s first Dispensary of Hope site outside of New York, which has five sites.

Patients who wish to participate should send their prescriptions to the pharmacy, located across from Upstate Community Hospital.

More information about the program can be obtained by emailing Upstate at [email protected]

James T. Mulder covers health. Do you have a topical tip? Contact him at (315) 470-2245 or [email protected]

Joan J. Dean

The author Joan J. Dean