State's drug donation program shows flaws

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In 2004, Missouri enacted a law that allows healthcare facilities to donate unused prescription drugs to other facilities. Such legislation sounds good in theory, but the program does not work in practice, nursing homes and other healthcare providers contend.

Nursing homes cannot make use of the law because they typically purchase what they need and rarely have extra drugs to donate, according to the Missouri Health Care Association. Also, nursing homes end up throwing away unused drugs anyway because, under the law, they cannot give a resident's unused drugs to another resident at the same facility, the Missouri Association of Homes for the Aging said.

Some other complaints: The state Department of Health and Senior Services does not track savings or oversee the program, and a phone number listed on the program's Web site is disconnected. Several states have implemented prescription drug donation programs, but it's not clear whether the programs have cut down on drug costs.