Savings From Missouri Prescription Drug Sharing Program Unclear

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It is unclear whether a 2004 Missouri law that allows some healthcare facilities and pharmaceutical companies to redirect surplus,unused prescription drugs to other facilities has had any effect on thestate's drug costs, the AP/St. Louis Post-Dispatchreports. The law allows a dispenser of drugs, such as a hospital,wholesale drug distributor or individual, to donate medication as longas the drugs have not been dispensed for personal use. State Sen.Charlie Shields (R) in 2004 estimated that the law would save the statemillions of dollars annually in drug costs.

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However, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and nursing homes say the law is not working as intended, the AP/Post-Dispatchreports. The state knows of just one organization that offers tocollect drugs and distribute them to facilities that have troubleaffording medications, and a phone number listed on the program's Website is disconnected, according to the AP/Post-Dispatch. The state Department of Health and Senior Services has no means of tracking savings or overseeing the program, and groups are not required to report their participation.

Jon Dolan, executive director of the Missouri Health Care Association,said nursing homes largely are unable to make use of the law becausethey typically purchase only what they need and rarely have extra drugsto donate. Under the law, nursing homes must donate unused drugs to anoutside clinic, pharmacy or hospital and cannot use a resident's unusedmedications for another resident in the same facility. Missouri Association of Homes for the AgingCEO Denise Clemonds said, "We're throwing away thousands and thousandsof dollars [worth of unused drugs] everyday." Clemonds added, "We allwere hoping we would have a very user friendly program where thosecould be basically utilized instead of being thrown away. We're notthere at all."

Thirty-three states have passed laws creatingsimilar programs, but fewer than half have been implemented, and it isdifficult to assess whether the programs have been successful inreducing drug costs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (Wiese, AP/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8/6).
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