​Some 150 California nursing homes have donated $1.3 million worth of medications to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, according to SIRUM (Supporting Initiatives to Redistribute Unused Medicine), a nonprofit social enterprise that connects skilled nursing facilities with community pharmacies. SIRUM aims to halt the destruction of valuable unused medicines and redirect them to Californians who cannot afford their medications.

“We’re extremely grateful for donations of medicine from local nursing homes and facilities around
the state,” said Narinder Singh, director of pharmacy services or the medical center. “With medication costs rising year after year, these donations help us extend our resources and provide safe medications to people in our community in need of our service.”

Instead of destroying unused medications, skilled nursing facilities in Santa Clara County joined the statewide movement to donate rather than destroy their meds.

Among the donor centers participating in the program are: Villa Siena in Mountain View; Greenhills Manor in Campbell; Sunny View Manor in Cupertino; and Mt. Pleasant Nursing Center, Amberwood Gardens, and Lincoln Glen Manor in San Jose.

The program uses “simple, efficient matchmaking technology” to make “hundreds of donations of unused medication.” SIRUM, which is supported by the California HealthCare Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation, hopes to bring 150 more California donors on board by the end of 2014.

“Before we started donating our unused medicine, it used to be so upsetting knowing that we
were destroying this valuable medicine. It was the same medicine people in our community couldn’t afford.

“Now, thanks to this program, it’s easy for us to donate medicine a resident doesn’t need any
longer, because she gets well, changes medicine, or leaves the nursing home,” said Rebecca Turner,
administrator at Lincoln Glen Manor and SIRUM board member. Lincoln Glen was the first in the state to join the effort to donate its unused medicine.

SIRUM enables nursing homes across the state to set up bins for reusable medicine, just like a recycling bin for bottles and cans. Medicine that can be redistributed is shipped directly to pharmacies in Santa Clara County.

Pharmacists check all donated medicine and dispense it free of charge to local patients who cannot afford their medications. “SIRUM has been able to leverage both new laws and smart technology
to make it easy for organizations to donate unused medicine from anywhere in the state,” said Santa
Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian.

“By pooling these donations, SIRUM has created a successful program that reduces environmental damage, saves taxpayers money, and improves the health of our most vulnerable citizens.”

SIRUM Co-founder Kiah Williams lauded nursing homes’ efforts to make the program successful. “Nursing facilities around the state already do so much to care for their residents,” she said. “Our program enables them to multiply and extend their impact to thousands more Californians in need of medical help—with no additional cost or effort,” she said.

“Our vision is zero waste, where we’re able to redistribute every safe, unused medicine in the state.”
SIRUM is planning to expand to at least one new state next year.