New bill allows uninsured to receive more donated medications
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has signed House Bill 658, a bill to increase the availability of donated prescription drugs and allow clinics to better serve people who are uninsured.
N.C. Rep. Wayne Sasser (R-Stanly), a pharmacist, sponsored the bill. It was supported by the North Carolina Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NCAFCC).
Previously, donated medications were required to have at least six months on their expiration date to be accepted. The new bill cuts that time down to a couple of weeks. Policies have been implemented to ensure none of the drugs are past their expiration date.
“This is a great example of common sense making its way through the legislative process to help thousands of people across this state,” NCAFCC CEO Randy Jordan stated in a press release Monday. “We hope this encourages more facilities and individuals to take part in our mission by donating their excess, unopened medications so we can provide better health care to those in need.”
Sasser said his colleagues reached out to him to sponsor the bill because of his background in medicine.
“I’m the only pharmacist out of the 170 people on the state legislature,” Sasser said. “I saw it as more of an opportunity than an obligation.”
The NCAFCC serves more than 80,000 patients statewide. Sasser estimates the bill will help at least five times that many people.
“We want to help those who are below the Medicaid line or barely above the Medicaid line,” Sasser said.
Sasser said pharmacies and clinics will be able to exchange medications for new ones based on demand. Medications not being used in one part of the state could be redistributed to another. Sasser said diabetes and blood pressure medications are among the most sought after drugs in the state.
“There were a lot of medications that were being wasted,” Sasser said. “Now, people can just donate them to a free clinic.”
Sasser hopes to adopt a similar bill for veterinary medicine. According to him, there are plenty of pet medications that get wasted. He said he has 10 bills that the governor should sign, assuming the budget gets approved.