Good Shepherd Pharmacy is a membership pharmacy that started in September 2015 with a focus on low-income individuals in need of costly medications. Over the past three years, it’s grown to 1,000 members who pay a monthly membership fee. It started with 200 drugs, but they quickly realized that wouldn’t be enough. Founder and CEO Philip Baker needed to help more than low-income, uninsured people and it would take more than 200 drugs to fulfill that mission.
Good Shepherd has 501c3 status. It accepts short-dated medication donations from manufacturers, all drugs that expire within the next year. Good Shepherd can dispense those medications for free. The first 200 drugs that the organization started with all came from manufacturer donations. Over the past three years, those original 200 medications have grown to 300 and continues to expand. Good Shepherd doesn’t just depend on donated medications. If there is a drug it needs for members, Good Shepherd orders it and sells it at cost. Good Shepherd is able to get generic drugs at a significant cost discount, saving major dollars for members. Those savings are big for Good Shepherd’s members.
“People know drugs are marked up but they really don’t realize how much,” Baker said. “We sign up people who are spending $500 to $600 a month and get it down to $50. We connect them to donated meds if they qualify for those. Even if they’re on insurance and on five or six drugs, just getting those medications at cost is a huge financial relief for them.”
Good Shepherd focuses on low-income and uninsured individuals, but anyone can become a member. Through its first three years, Good Shepherd has served 2,500 low-income Memphians. Current membership is $40 a month. As Good Shepherd grows it plans to lower the monthly membership fee.
Good Shepherd helps its members get needed medications, yes, but it also has reclaimed $10 million worth of meds that would’ve been headed to a landfill. An important part of its work is obtaining donated medications from both manufacturers and individuals. An example of individual donations is someone has a relative who died and had unopened prescriptions that went unused. Good Shepherd actually can receive unused medications from anyone in the country and then dispense them locally in Tennessee. Good Shepherd inspects the drugs to either dispense or dispose.
Baker was director of pharmacy at a small hospital when he decided to start a personal ministry to help individuals better understand their medications. He did it on the weekends and as the service took off thanks to word of mouth, Baker said he felt led to start a nonprofit. He’s unaware of similar nonprofit membership pharmacies like his, but he said he’s keeping track of everything he’s learned so he can teach anyone in any location who wants to start something similar.
Good Shepherd started at Hickory Ridge Mall but has since relocated to a building at Southern College of Optometry. In addition to dispensing meds, in January 2017 Good Shepherd launched a free pharm tech program that helps students become board certified over the course of six months.
For more information about Good Shepherd Pharmacy, visit goodshephealth.com.
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