Lawmakers approve bill to create program to redistribute donated and unused prescription medications
STATE HOUSE — The General Assembly has approved legislation introduced by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) and Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence) that would create a way to redistribute unused medication to aid people who cannot access or afford their prescriptions.
The act (2022-H 7133B, 2022-S 2207A) would authorize the creation and implementation of a pharmaceutical redistribution program by the Department of Health and the Board of Pharmacy to begin on Jan. 1, 2023.
“Unused medication worth billions of dollars gets thrown out every year,” said Representative McNamara. “Medication will often go unused because a patient’s condition improves, they change doses, or they pass away. Instead of disposing of the unused medicine, people would be able to donate it. By collecting these unused drugs and redistributing them to qualifying individuals, we would be able to increase medication access, especially to underserved populations.”
The program would provide for the redistribution of donated and unused non-controlled substance prescription drugs from facilities to aid Rhode Islanders who have difficulty affording or accessing those drugs.
“Many patients who suffer from cancer and other serious illnesses find it very difficult to afford care,” said Senator Miller. “A drug redistribution program that includes stringent safety measure to protect patients will go a long way toward saving lives while preserving the financial well-being and dignity of many in Rhode Island who cannot afford medication.”
Estimates place the total annual cost of pharmaceutical waste to the American healthcare system at between $75 and $100 billion. Under the new legislation, the program would be voluntary and establish the conditions for donations and redistribution with civil and criminal immunity for persons or institutions acting in good faith. The measure now moves to the governor’s office.