A proposal to allow unused prescription drugs to be donated to low-income patients is advancing in the Florida Legislature. Florida already allows cancer drugs be donated.
State Rep. Clay Yarborough, R-Jacksonville, is sponsoring the bipartisan measure to create a prescription drug donation program.
He posed this example in a December phone interview: “If you had a patient who was in a nursing home or a hospital, or something like that, and they had a lot of medication prescribed to them but then they passed away and the medication had not been opened or compromised in any way or expired, then those drugs could be donated.”
The medicine could be donated to someone else who was prescribed that medicine but can’t afford it, meaning someone low-income, uninsured or underinsured.
“It’s just a way to help the citizens of our state and consumers in our state that would be in need and save money and use these drugs that [are] perfectly fine and there’s nothing wrong with them,” Yarborough said.
According to legislative staff, Florida is one of 38 states that allow some kind of drug donation, and it’s among the 13 states that limit it to cancer drugs.
The state’s cancer drug donation program is managed by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The version of Yarborough’s bill that has passed one committee would make the drug donation program a separate operation under the Health Department.
The bill would prohibit patients from directly donating meds, but hospitals, nursing homes and hospices could. Some addictive drugs like Oxycodone would be excluded. The Department of Health would be required to maintain a registry on its website of all available drugs and supplies, as well as the repositories where they’re available.
Legislative staff looked at other states with broad donation programs like Iowa, with the largest drug recycling program. That state served more than 71,000 uninsured or underinsured patients over the last eight years, providing 9.1 million units of free drugs and supplies.
According to a bill analysis, U.S. patients and insurers spend approximately $328.6 billion annually on prescription drugs, with 14 percent paid out of pocket by consumers. Without donation or “recycling” programs, unused prescription drugs are often flushed down the toilet or given to sheriffs’ offices drug take-back days.
The House and Senate versions of the bill each have two more committee stops before reaching the floor.
Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.