Charitable Pharmacy spurred by sister’s early loss of life

To Ritesh Shah, being a pharmacist is about greater than shelling out treatment. It’s about serving to the neighborhood.

In 2017, he saved the lifetime of a buyer who suffered a pulmonary embolism at his Keansburg retailer. In the course of the pandemic, he despatched staffers to varsities and first-responder stations to manage COVID testing and vaccinations.

This previous fall, as issues lastly started to quiet down, he deliberate a visit to see household in India. When phrase got here that his youthful sister, Rena Shah, had fallen severely sick with the flu pressure H1N1, he put the push on.

“By the point I reached her she had handed away,” he stated. Rena, 43, died shortly after his airplane landed.

“These 20 minutes, it sits very closely on my chest,” Ritesh stated. “My spouse and I made a decision once we bought again residence that we have been going to do one thing significant.”

Ritesh Shah inside his soon-to-open charitable pharmacy in Pink Financial institution.

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Rena suffered from diabetes, and Ritesh couldn’t assist however assume higher entry to treatment would have made a distinction. He determined to open a charitable pharmacy.

That’s proper: Subsequent month, in Pink Financial institution, the Ritesh Shah Charitable Pharmacy will probably be making a gift of life-saving meds to those that can’t afford them.

It’s a big-hearted, daring experiment, believed to be the primary of its sort in New Jersey.

“I’ve been practising in Monmouth County for at the very least 25 years,” Shah stated. “I’ve seen folks struggling for treatment. I’ve seen these tales day by day — and it bothers me.”

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Rewarding however difficult

Shah, a 48-year-old Freehold Township resident, owns pharmacies in Holmdel, Howell, Marlboro and Keansburg. He’s the chief government of Legacy Pharmacy Group, which handles buying for 500-plus drugstores within the mid-Atlantic area. His spouse, Asha Shah, can be a pharmacist. He owns the constructing that can home the charitable pharmacy at 224 Shrewsbury Ave. in Pink Financial institution.

So he’s blessed with some assets.

“God has been good to us,” he stated. “God has given me extra.”

It’s going to take lots to make this work.

“The mission is de facto noble, however it’s a must to take into consideration the sustainability,” stated Donney John, who runs a considerably comparable operation in Virginia and has been advising Shah. “How do you supply the medication? Drug costs hold going up. How will you assist folks with diabetes, not one time, however in a manner that’s ongoing?”

John is government director of NOVA Scripts Central, which acquires and sends drugs to charitable clinics at minimal value. John estimates his group has distributed $83 million value of medication over the previous 15 years.

“It’s tremendously rewarding however it’s additionally difficult,” John stated. “There are at all times sensible considerations.”

John related with Shah by way of Charitable Pharmacies of America, which offers assets to pharmacists fascinating in taking this plunge.

“His expertise operating his Legacy Group, that speaks volumes when it comes to how he is aware of what the true value of medication is,” John stated. “He is aware of find out how to discover one of the best offers.”

John stated there are few walk-in charitable pharmacies, just like the one Shah is launching, across the nation.

“I’m from New York initially, so I do know the tristate space very well,” John stated. “There may be such an enormous want. It has super potential to vary lives in a dramatic manner.”

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Ritesh Shah outside his soon-to-open charitable pharmacy in Red Bank.

Ritesh Shah outdoors his soon-to-open charitable pharmacy in Pink Financial institution.

The way it will work

Who will probably be eligible totally free meds at Shah’s charitable pharmacy? Anybody whose earnings is inside 3 times the federal poverty stage. For a single particular person the poverty line is $13,590, for 2 folks it’s $18,310, for a household of 4 it’s $27,750.

Prospects can get licensed for service on the pharmacy by way of federally certified well being clinics, and in the event that they don’t know the way to try this, Shah stated his employees will stroll them by way of the paperwork.

“This will probably be for individuals who generally have to decide on between meals and drugs,” Shah stated.

He’s making an inventory of about 150 “lifesaving” medicines that his pharmacy will supply. These are for continual situations like blood stress, coronary heart illness, diabetes and psychological well being. The pharmacy additionally will conduct tutorial classes on self-care.

“That is one thing I strongly consider in: Educate earlier than you medicate,” Shah stated.

To get the phrase out, Shah stated he’s forming relationships with native advocates for the underserved like Lunch Break and Parker Household Well being Heart. He estimates 40,000 Monmouth County residents are uninsured.

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“If I do 1,000 or 1,500 sufferers over the subsequent yr, that may very well be 1,500 prescriptions at (a financial savings of) $10 per prescription,” he stated. “That’s $1.5 million in financial savings — and these sufferers are actually not getting hospitalized for not taking the correct drugs.”

He’ll attain into his personal pocket, he’ll maintain fundraisers, he’ll search grants. And he definitely will leverage his connections within the subject.

“I’ve so many mates and companions and enterprise colleagues who’ve reached out to me and stated, ‘Ritesh, what can we do to assist?’” he stated.

The plan is to open in mid-April.

“My aim is ensuring we don’t lose any valuable life,” he stated. “I wish to be sure that my sister is joyful upstairs.”

For extra data on Ritesh Shah Charitable Pharmacy, go to For extra on Charitable Pharmacies of America, go to

Jerry Carino is neighborhood columnist for the Asbury Park Press, specializing in the Jersey Shore’s fascinating folks, inspiring tales and urgent points. Contact him at [email protected]

This text initially appeared on Asbury Park Press: Ritesh Shah Charitable Pharmacy affords to needy free drugs

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