New Jersey Students Launch Foundation to Transfer Unused Medications to Communities in Need

January 14, 2021
Lauren Lavelle

The Altrui Foundation is a non-profit organization that serves as a center point between manufacturers of unused medications and the charitable organizations that seek them.

Three New Jersey teens are aiming to aid the pharmaceutical supply chain, one unused medication at a time.

The Altrui Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to redirecting unused medications to communities in need. Middletown, NJ residents and founders of the organization, Sourish Jasti, a freshman at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Shreya Kavuru, a senior at St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire, and Rahul Kavuru, a junior at St. Paul’s School, formulated the plan in March of 2020 while spending time together before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“We were having this conversation about how there’s a big problem in the supply chain where billions of unused medications are going to waste each year and pharmacies are spending about $1 to $3 per pound to discard these medications,” Shreya Kavuru says. “At the same time, there are millions of uninsured patients all over the world who are going without the medications they need. We identified this problem and started thinking about how we can play a role in this supply chain.”

The students got to work and decided to make The Altrui Foundation a center point between the manufacturers of the unused medications and the charitable organizations that seek them.

“Charitable organizations request manufacturers’ [medications] whenever there is something wrong. So, if a hurricane hit a certain part of the world, and they needed certain medications, they would reach out to whatever manufacturers that they had connections to,” Jasti says. “Sometimes they’d have strong relationships, other times it would just be cold calling. So, it was a long, messy, process and it was a hassle on both sides.”

According to Jasti, when using The Altrui Foundation, manufacturers provide an inventory list, and the charitable organizations compile medication requests and send them to the foundation. The foundation then serves as a middle ground between the two by transferring the unused medications to the charitable organizations, eliminating the uncertain back and forth between the two parties.

“We’re basically able to complete an inventory list of short-dated products by working with multiple people,” Jasti says. “We keep the sanctity of the direct relationship between the two, so we never touch the product, and we don’t have to go through the regulatory hurdles and the tax deductions at the end of the year. We’re handling the data behind it and our value proposition is a platform to facilitate both sides.”

As of December 2020, the team has shipped more than 12 million medications for Rising Pharmaceuticals, Ingenus Pharmaceuticals, Aurobindo, Camber Pharmaceuticals, Hetero, and Ascent Pharmaceuticals, and the number is growing rapidly. Jasti credits the foundation’s success to its dedicated team.

“We have people on the operations side working with excel sheets, and people working on the outreach with manufacturers and organizations. We also have some really talented people who are in photography and handle our social media,” he says. “We’re trying to give opportunities to people who want to get themselves involved. We could be doing a lot of this with fewer people, but we think that people bring in their own perspectives and their own ideas and it helps to make a really collaborative environment.”

Overall, the students want The Altrui Foundation to serve as a gateway for new initiatives in the pharmaceutical space.

“We’re able to solve two problems in society, which is, one, to allow patients to have an accessible outlet to medications and, two, to help the environment not suffer as many environmentally unfriendly, harmful effects,” Rahul Kavuru says. “This foundation can open the door for different initiatives, and this is just the beginning, so hopefully, with this project, we can create different initiatives that can really help the world and tackle its most pressing needs.”