Got Pills? Calif. Lawmaker Wants To Recycle Unused Drug Prescriptions

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A state lawmaker wants to make it easier for the poor and needy to get their hands on some drugs.

State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) Joe Simitian is behind a legislative effort in Sacramento to make it easier for surplus prescription medication to be donated to uninsured Californians.

Simitian told KNX 1070 he believes prescription drugs that would otherwise be thrown out should be redistributed to patients who need them but can’t afford the cost.

“We’ve got every consideration in mind that folks who should not be getting access to these drugs don’t, and of course it’s very important that they be tracked every step of their journey from the manufacturer to the final recipient,” said Simitian.

Senate Bill 1329 would relax current rules to allow health care providers to give away unopened and unexpired medications to individual patients and non-profit community clinics in need.

The bill would also lay the groundwork for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and county health officials to establish their own drug redistribution program.

Simitian said this has been done on a small scale for the last six years and so far there have been major issues.

“We’ve got one little non-profit [clinic] at Stanford that has probably redistributed a quarter of a million pills worth $600,000 to thousands of folks who needed their help,” he said.

The plan would only apply to prescriptions drugs that are used in medical centers by professionals statewide, not personal prescriptions that are taken home by individual patients.

While Simitian is currently the bill’s biggest advocate in Sacramento, he credits a group of Stanford medical students for coming up with the idea for the bill as part of Simitian’s 2005 “There Oughta Be a Law” contest.


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