Arkansas introduces bill to distribute unused nursing home medications

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An Arkansas House of Representatives committee has proposed a bill that would permit unused prescription drugs to be redirected to free health clinics statewide.

An estimated $5 million worth of medications is simply destroyed or disposed of each year after nursing home residents die, move or change drug prescriptions, notes the bill's sponsor, State Rep. Jodie Mahony (D).

The bill, HB1031, would allow the state Board of Pharmacy, in cooperation with the Department of Human Services and the Health Department, to establish new rules for a pilot program in which unused drugs could supply medications to as many as two-thirds of Arkansas' 450,000 uninsured. The measure was unveiled Thursday.

While participation in the program would be strictly voluntary, members of the house committee endorsed the bill overwhelmingly and said they see it as an excellent way to stop waste.