(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., Tim Eustace, Angelica Jimenez, Thomas Giblin and Shavonda Sumter that would establish voluntarily drug donation programs for use by people who are indigent, uninsured, or underinsured received final legislative approval Thursday and now heads to the governor’s desk.
Specifically, the bill (A-1813) would allow private entities to voluntarily establish drug donation programs, pursuant to which health care facilities, pharmacies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and similar entities would be permitted to donate over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs, and administration supplies for use by people who are indigent, uninsured, or underinsured.
“A number of states have had great success with drug donation programs already,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “There are enormous benefits to the program, most importantly for patients who can’t afford much-needed medications, but also for health care providers and donors.”
“Drug donation programs are steadily emerging as a sensible way to make sure patients in need have access to crucial prescription, and even non-prescription, medications,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Its time has come for New Jersey.”
The sponsors noted that, as of mid-2016, 42 states had passed laws establishing drug redistribution programs, with 20 of them having fully operational repository programs.
“Given the rising cost of pharmaceuticals and the stalemate in Congress over the Affordable Care Act, this is an innovative way to help those who are less fortunate access life-saving medications,” said Jimenez (D-Bergen/Hudson).
“The average person can’t possibly afford the out-of-pocket cost for most prescription medications on the market. This is all the more true for someone who’s indigent or struggling financially. This can be a life-altering program and we should embrace it as a state,” said Giblin (D-Essex/Passaic).
“Not having insurance can make certain medications cost-prohibitive for people of modest means,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This can help ensure that these patients are able to get the medication they need, so they don’t have to choose between their health and their living expenses.”
Specifically, drug manufacturers, wholesalers, repackagers, returns processors, and third-party logistics providers, as well as health care facilities and pharmacies, will be permitted to donate unexpired over-the-counter and prescription medications that are contained in a sealed and tamper-evident packaging that remains intact.
While the bill would permit the donation of such over-the-counter and prescription medications as cancer drugs, anti-rejection drugs, and drugs that have been discontinued in a health care facility, it does not, however, permit the donation of controlled dangerous substances, compounded drugs, or prescription drugs that can only be dispensed to a patient who is registered with the drug manufacturer.
The bill expressly stipulates that donated prescription drugs can only be dispensed, pursuant to a valid prescription by a pharmacist or other health care professional who is authorized by law to dispense prescription medications.
This bill also stipulates that donations may be accepted from donors located in another state, provided that the donation is permitted under the laws of that other state.
Additionally, the drug donor would be allowed a corporation business tax or gross income tax credit equal to the sum of: the cost of the over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs, and administration supplies; and the verifiable cost incurred to make the donation of the drugs and supplies.
Redistributors would be required to inspect the donated drugs to determine whether they have been adulterated or misbranded, and would be required to separate any donated drugs from other drug stocks. Redistributors would also be required to establish eligibility criteria for individuals to receive donated drugs, with priority being granted to individuals who are indigent, uninsured, or underinsured.
The bill prohibits donated drugs from being resold by any person or entity, including a redistributor; however, redistributors would be authorized to charge a reasonable handling fee to individuals who are dispensed a donated drug, which cannot exceed the actual validated cost of transporting, inspecting, repackaging, storing, and dispensing the drug.
The bill was approved 70-0 by he Assembly and 40-0 by the Senate in June.