A Penn first-year co-founded the Altrui Foundation, which has helped facilitate the distribution of $15,000,000 worth of unused medication to underserved communities in just four months.
The Altrui Foundation transfers unused medications from manufacturers to charitable organizations so they do not become wasted. The organization was founded by Wharton first-year Sourish Jasti, senior at St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H. Shreya Kavuru, and St. Paul’s School junior Rahul Kavuru.
After hearing from an executive in the pharmaceutical industry about the problem of manufacturers destroying billions of dollars worth of unused medications each year and the large underserved community in need of medication, Jasti said the team was inspired to take on this project.
The Altrui team is working with companies including Rising Pharmaceuticals and Ingenus Pharmaceuticals to redistribute unused medications that they manufacture through charity organizations.
The foundation works with charities to help these underserved communities both domestically and internationally. One organization is Kingsway Charities, a Christian charity that supplies medicines all over the world.
“They have mission trips that they plan out,” Jasti said. “They are able to take certain amounts of medicine to the doctors that go on the mission trips and go to these places and supply it there.”
While the medications that Altrui facilitates are unable to be sold at pharmacies like CVS, they are usable and unexpired medications that help communities, such as the uninsured, and communities after natural disasters, Jasti said.
In addition to preventing the destruction of usable medications, the Altrui Foundation also has a sector called Altrui Education that helps mentor high school students applying to college. Altrui Education’s mentorship program hopes to break “the systematic systemic barriers that contribute to the cyclic nature of poverty, violence, and addiction,” according to its website.
The team said their organization is unique because most of their mentors are students who recently applied to or started college.
“It gives a different perspective than a counselor or a parent,” said Princeton University first-year and Altrui Education Manager Maxime Lahlou. “It is someone who just applied and can relate to the stress of applying.”
The Altrui founders believe that the youth of their team across both the medical and educational sectors is an asset. Engineering first-year and Altrui member Justin Zhang said he believes their youth has added to the success of the venture.
“We are inspired and passionate about what we do,” Zhang said. “We are really committed to this initiative going far. This is not a short term kind of spiel that will end when COVID-19 ends. We plan on continuing for years to come. I think having that motivation and commitment helps the organization run.”
These students also solicit advice form Wharton’s Management Club’s Applied Management Program and the Altrui Foundation’s Advisory Board.
Gopichand Katragadda, a member of the Altrui Advisory Board and CEO of artificial intelligence technology startup Myelin Foundry, said he is impressed by the foundation and enjoys his advisory role.
“I am very happy that the team has come together in this manner to contribute to society,” Katragadda said. “They could pick a huge money-making opportunity. [But they] are doing all that they do free of cost with a passion to serve humanity. I think there should be more such organizations, and I am happy to be a part of this.”
Moving forward, the foundation hopes to serve as the link between more charities and pharmaceutical companies with leftover medication.
First-year student at New Jersey Medical School and Altrui member Swathi Pavuluri said she has learned much from the experience of being on the Altrui medical team and admires the younger people she is able to work with.
“I am really grateful to be a part of this. I hoped that I would be a part of something like this in the future, but as a med school first year student I am able to be a part of something that is making such a profound impact on both a medical level, which I am professionally interested in, and on a social level," Pavuluri said.
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