Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed legislation (HB 177) that would allow patients to donate unused prescription drugs to those in need.
The measure sets up the Prescription Drug Donation Repository Program within the Department of Health (DOH). Sen. Lauren Book sponsored the Senate version of the bill (SB 58), while Reps. Nick Duran and Clay Yarborough were behind the House version.
The new DOH program can accept drugs only from authorized sources, such as nursing home facilities with closed drug delivery systems, pharmacies, hospitals and others.
Typically, if those facilities end up with unused prescriptions, they are destroyed. The legislation’s sponsors say the bill could save millions of dollars.
The repository may only accept drugs that are in their original packaging, show no signs of tampering and have been stored at normal room temperature, among other restrictions.
Drugs may also not be submitted to a specific person in need. Instead, they will go into the DOH program and be allocated by state officials.
“This bill could not have come at a more important time, when so many Floridians are forced to pick and choose what they can afford on a daily basis,” Book said.
“An enormous amount of brand new, sealed, and unused medication is being destroyed and wasted at Florida hospitals and nursing homes each year. This bill allows the Florida Department of Health to provide unused, otherwise wasted medications to Floridians who need but cannot afford them, expanding critical access to health care for underserved Floridians.”
Florida already has a version of this program, but it’s restricted to drugs used to treat cancer.
This is the third straight year Book put forward a version of the bill.
In 2018, Book’s 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.
With the Governor’s signature this time around, the legislation will go into effect on July 1.