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Drug Repository Program Gets Backing

Prescription drugs on a shelf.
Daylina Miller/WUSF
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

With bipartisan support, state lawmakers are moving forward with bills that would authorize a drug-repository program to redistribute prescription drugs to poor and uninsured residents.

House and Senate proposals (HB 59 and SB 104) received approval this week from the House Health Quality Subcommittee and the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee.

The similar proposals would create a drug-repository program at the Florida Department of Health to facilitate donations of prescription drugs and supplies to people who need them.

Only drugs that are in original sealed packaging with no signs of tampering could be donated, and the packaging would have to include lot numbers and expiration dates of the drugs. Drugs couldn’t be donated to specific patients through the program, and no drugs funded by Medicaid could be donated.

The bills would allow dispensing by pharmacists and other health-care practitioners authorized by law to dispense prescription drugs and supplies. The bills also would offer legal protection for participating in the program.

While the proposals have enjoyed bipartisan support, they have drawn questions. House Health Quality Subcommittee member Mike Beltran, R-Lithia, said he would be “looking closely” at the volume of drugs donated through the program compared to the administrative costs associated with it.

Florida already has a drug-reuse program, but it is limited to cancer drugs. It is administered by the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation. According to a House bill analysis, there have been at least 40 cancer drug donations under the program since 2013. However, there are no current available donations.

The new bills are filed for the legislative session that starts March 5.