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Unused drug recycling program awaits Ron DeSantis’ approval

Approved donors could offer unused prescription drugs to a repository.

A bill allowing for prescription drug donations hit the Governor’s desk Tuesday after waiting more than three months for approval.

The legislation (HB 177) would create the Prescription Drug Donation Repository Program within the Department of Health to try to help save millions of dollars in prescriptions that go to waste each year in Florida to instead be used by other low-income people in need.

Also, uninsured Floridians who are ineligible for prescription drug coverage under any program funded in whole or in part by the federal government could receive prescriptions, as could people with prescription drug coverage who have exhausted these benefits or do not have prescription drug coverage for the drug prescribed.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has until June 10 to sign or veto the bill, promoted by Reps. Nicholas Duran and Clay Yarborough and Sen. Lauren Book. The final legislation passed both houses unanimously by mid-February, but with the COVID-19 pandemic looming over the Session’s final days, the Governor put off signing most bills until a later.

The program would only accept drugs from approved donors that are in their original packaging, show no signs of tampering and have been stored at normal room temperature, among other restrictions. And Drugs may not be submitted to a specific person in need.

Unopened drugs may be donated to participating health care practitioner’s offices, pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes or free or nonprofit health clinics.

Only certain nursing home facilities, hospices, hospitals, pharmacies, drug manufacturers or wholesale distributors, medical device manufacturers or suppliers, or prescibers may donate to participating repositories. Patients may not donate their prescriptions themselves.

The bill also outlines the safety measures pharmacists or approved practitioners must take when accepting prescriptions and which Floridians are eligible to receive drugs from the program.

Florida already has a version of this program, but it’s limited to cancer medication and equipment.

No savings estimate exists for Floridians, but cancer program has received 40 donations since 2013. However, other states have saved millions of dollars since launching their repository programs.

After Book repeatedly pushed for the bill’s passage since 2018, it is finally a single step away from becoming law. If signed by the Governor, it would go into effect July 1.

In 2018, Book’s version of the bill made it through committees and was approved by the full Senate, but died in the House.

During the 2019 Session, the House companion bill was the one to advance. It was approved by the full House, but was not heard in the Senate.

Written By

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at renzo@floridapolitics.com and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.

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