Frequently Asked Questions

What is SIRUM?

Incubated at Stanford University, SIRUM (Supporting Initiatives to Redistribute Unused Medicine) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that saves lives, time, and money by allowing health facilities, suppliers, and pharmacies to easily donate unused medicine to community clinics rather than destroy it. Our simple online system enables closed, safe, and hassle-free peer-to-peer drug donation. Unlike traditional drug donation programs, which rely on many inefficient intermediary steps, SIRUM connects donor facilities and recipient clinics directly.

What does SIRUM stand for?

Supporting Initiatives to Redistribute Unused Medicine. Our tagline is “Saving Medicine, Saving Lives.”

Where is SIRUM located?

We are currently based in Palo Alto, CA. If you wish to contact us, we are available at (650) 488-7434.

When was SIRUM founded and by whom?

Co-founder Adam Kircher originally developed the idea of a match-based medical redistribution program in 2005 after witnessing the destruction caused by the 2004 Indonesian tsunami. Seeing how inefficient donation and delivery logistics prevented critical medications and medical supplies from getting to the thousands of Indonesians who desperately needed them inspired his idea to start a nonprofit to directly connect donor facilities and recipients. This idea developed into SIRUM, Supporting Initiatives to Redistribute Unused Medicine.

SIRUM was officially incorporated in 2009 and became operational in 2011. Fellow Stanford graduates and co-founders George Wang and Kiah Williams joined Adam Kircher and played critical roles in helping SIRUM’s first pilot programs get off the ground.

Who is on the SIRUM team and board?

Visit our Team page to learn more about us.

Has SIRUM received any awards or media coverage?

Visit our Media page to view all of our past media coverage.

Are you available for media interviews?

Yes, please contact media at [email protected]

Who is eligible to use SIRUM’s service?

SIRUM is currently operating in the states of California, Colorado, Oregon, and Ohio. We are actively seeking potential medicine donors and recipients across the country. Forty states have established Good Samaritan laws that protect eligible donor and recipient organizations involved in medicine donation.

Currently, there are 36 other states that have already passed laws protecting some form of drug redistribution; most are not operational. We consider each of those 36 states to be potential places for expansion and we are actively seeking local partners. Please contact us to find our more about the legal landscape in your state and how we can make drug donation a feasible, efficient option for facilities in your area.

Please see our Who We Serve page for more information on eligible donors. Unfortunately, we are unable to facilitate donations of medicine that have been, or are currently in, the possession of members of the public.

Who benefits from SIRUM’s service?

SIRUM’s service benefits all who participate—and the community members who participating facilities and clinics serve. Below is a select list of notable benefits for the different groups we serve.

Health Facilities

  • Reduce drug destruction costs, which can cost up to $3/pound
  • Eliminate time-intensive destruction processes to free up staff
  • Become a community leader in sustainable healthcare practices
  • Receive quarterly reports with the estimated number of patients you helped

Recipient Clinics

  • Extend your budget and save valuable dollars
  • Have confidence, through our transparent process, that donated medicine has been monitored and maintained according to quality standards
  • Enjoy a fast, efficient and low-cost source of medicine that merges seamlessly with your existing processes

Community Members & Patients

  • Enjoy cleaner air and water supplies due to a decrease in the flushing and burning of unused drugs
  • Cut down on the $18 billion spent every year on unnecessary trips to the emergency room, many of which are due to lack of medication access
  • Improve the health, and even save the lives, of low-income Americans who desperately need but cannot afford to fill their prescriptions
  • Ensure that fewer low-income Americans have to choose between filling prescriptions and meeting other basic needs, like heat for their homes or food for their families

Won’t the Affordable Care Act (ACA) make medicine available to all?

You might think that, but here’s an interesting statistic: Adults with insurance actually make up about 50% of the people who can’t afford prescriptions. Having insurance doesn’t inoculate against the high cost of drugs or the low income levels that many people have in these tough economic times.

There will also always be a pool of “underinsured” people who may have insurance but not enough to cover the many chronic or complex conditions for which they need numerous or expensive drugs. They will continue to make up a significant part of our recipient base as well.

Can individuals donate medicine?

Unfortunately, we are unable to facilitate donations of medicine that have been, or are currently in, the possession of members of the public.

We applaud your interest in ending individuals’ contributions to pharmaceutical waste and wish we could assist you. If you live in California and are interested in proper disposal, find a CalRecycle center. The DEA also holds a national drug take-back day.

We also urge you to consider contributing to SIRUM’s efforts to meet the needs of the 1 in 4 working-age Americans who cannot afford the medications they need to stay healthy—and end the destruction of over $700 million worth of unused medicine occurring in America’s health facilities each year. Donate Now.

Do you accept expired medications?

No. The World Health Organization has established a comprehensive set of criteria to ensure that medicine donations are useful. At SIRUM, we believe all donations should surpass these minimal requirements.

Donors and recipients in our flagship state of California should note that state law requires that donated medicine also: be centrally stored, not be a controlled substance, not have been in the possession of a patient, and be in unopened, tamper-evident packaging.

Do I need access to a computer to donate medicine?

No. We realize that not all organizations have easy access to the Internet at their workstations. Recurring donors can choose a paper fax option to easily process donations without needing a computer. We even provide on-site support to help you customize a donation solution that fits into your facility’s setup and any existing destruction process.

How do you control the quality of the drugs being donated?

SIRUM does not directly oversee any of the drugs donated through our service.  Our network relies on a small, trusted community of clinics and donors that report any donation not meeting domestic or international guidelines and give positive feedback to donors who comply with guidelines and ship donations promptly. In order to increase adherence to our donation safety guidelines, we put great time and effort into on-boarding new donors and provide ongoing, personalized technical assistance.

How are matches made?

For each donor facility, SIRUM’s online system produces a list of all recipient clinics in the SIRUM network that have a need matching a surplus in that facility’s inventory. It is then up to the donor to choose the recipient clinic. SIRUM takes care of all the rest once that choice has been made—labels, shipping, tracking, and more.

How much impact have you had to date?

Please see Our Impact page for more information.

How many people have benefited from donations?

To date, we have redistributed 1.5 million pills, enough for over 150,000 prescriptions for low-income patients.

Is SIRUM a 501(c)(3)?

Yes, SIRUM is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation (EIN 27-1103057). Our mission is to streamline medicine donation to improve access to necessary, and in many cases life-sustaining, prescription drugs for low-income families and the uninsured.

How is SIRUM funded?

In order to make scaling possible, we have received generous funding from an array of foundations. Through their funding they have shown their confidence in this model and its potential for national scaling.

However, their funding is not enough to ensure our long-term sustainability, which is why we are working hard to secure additional support and ask high-volume users to contribute to our operational costs.

Do you accept donations?

Absolutely! We accept both monetary and in-kind donations, both of which are critical to our ability to achieve our dual goals of financial sustainability and nationwide growth. We also welcome volunteers and encourage you to learn more and apply. Learn more about the various types of support we accept on our Get Involved page.

Our facility returns unused medicines to the pharmacy for credit. Can we still get involved?

You’re not alone!  Some facilities that return some of their unused medications to their pharmacy for credit also donate with us. Many of these facilities noticed that they weren’t getting as much credit from the pharmacy as they were expecting—buildings that return to their pharmacy may not get credit depending on what the medicine is, the payer type and whether or not the card is full. Others found that donating their medicines saves them expensive pharmacy restocking fees. And even though it might be convenient to return to your pharmacy, many of these medications are still destroyed after they are returned.