A successful Monmouth County pharmacist who has spent 20 plus years servicing people will be opening up a no-cost pharmacy in Red Bank on April 15 to help people who often have to decide between food, rent, and medicine.

"For those kinds of patients who don't have any means of getting insurance or those who don't get qualified for medicare or Medicaid -- New Jersey has almost, 820,000 people living 300-percent below (the) federal poverty line and there (are) all the indigent patients whose prescriptions never reaches to the pharmacy when they get prescriptions when they get care," Ritesh Shah tells Townsquare Media-Jersey Shore News. "My wife and I, we decided, how can we help those people? Because life is life, right? You lose precious life and we don't want anyone to lose their family members."

In addition to the genuine desire to help others, Shah explains that what pushed him to turn this vision into a reality with the Ritesh Shah Charitable Pharmacy on Shrewsbury Avenue in Red Bank, was the sudden loss of his sister to a battle with Covid.

"When this kind of situation comes, either you can cry about it or do something about it, so losing my baby sister, who was only 43-years old -- to honor her, to pay her tribute, we decided to pay it back to our community where I live now, and to try and make a difference," Shah said.

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If you fall within the guidelines to be able to get prescriptions for free at this pharmacy, you would be able to fill almost any prescription including for diabetes, heart disease, blood pressure, and mental illness.

"We have about 150 plus medications that can be life-saving," Shah said. "Those medications, they can get at no cost when you get qualified, and your qualification is whether you're getting your prescription from federally qualified health clinics."

There is an eligibility form on their website, Shah said, which you would have to fill out first before coming to the pharmacy.

"Anyone who lives 300-percent below federal poverty lines will get this prescription medication," Shah said.

This new pharmacy, which will open up in April, is open to more than just Monmouth County residents, it's for any New Jersey resident.

"Anybody who lives in the New Jersey, bust most immediately, Monmouth, Middlesex, Ocean, Somerset County -- they can come and get the medication," Shah said. "Anyone from New Jersey who has a prescription and gets qualified, with the protocols that we have, will get those medications that we have with us, at no charge."

There were a few factors that went into Ritesh Shah opening up this pharmacy to help out the people who can often not afford prescription medication, most.

"It's to change the landscape of healthcare in our state where we want to ensure that every person has access to critical prescriptions regardless of their ability to pay," Shah said. "My mission, my organization's mission is to increase access to medications, immunizations, health education, and pharmacy services for those who are uninsured and underserved patients. I want to be a part of the pharmacists who reduce clinical and social health inequities we have in our community."

Red Bank Green was the first to report this story.

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