I-DROP Passes Both Chambers with Bipartisan Support
In many states, unused medication in sealed, tamper-evident packaging can be donated to benefit patients in need. Up until now, Illinois has not been one of those states, but that will soon change. The Illinois Drug Reuse Opportunity Program Act (HB119) has passed both chambers of the General Assembly with bipartisan support and now heads to the Governor’s desk for signature. The Illinois Prescription Drug Repository Coalition (ILRxDrugRepository.org), organized by individual physicians and pharmacists desperate to help their patients, led the effort to pass this legislation.
“At our clinic, patients and family members regularly bring in perfectly good, potentially life-saving meds, safely packaged in blister packs, asking if the meds can be donated to uninsured patients,” said Elizabeth Lindquist, oncology pharmacist at SwedishAmerican Regional Cancer Center in Rockford. “These patients and families know how much these drugs cost and are shocked and dismayed to hear that disposal is their only option.”
Alan Hutchison, MD, PhD, of University of Chicago Medicine, said, “Now that this bill is headed to the Governor's desk, I'm looking forward to introducing patients, institutions, and fellow providers to this exciting new resource of affordable medications as well as a new solution for their unneeded safe and unexpired medications.”
In 2020, over half of Illinois adults reported being either “worried” or “very worried” about affording the cost of prescription drugs, according to a survey by Altarum’s Healthcare Value Hub. Meanwhile tens of millions of dollars of medication paid for by Illinoisans is incinerated or flushed into Illinois groundwater every year.
The Illinois Drug Reuse Opportunity Program Act (I-DROP), combines 14 years of experience across 38 states to legalize drug donation and reuse. I-DROP allows individuals and institutions to donate medication in sealed, tamper-evident packaging to participating pharmacies and clinics. The pharmacies and clinics then dispense the donated medication at low or no cost to patients in need. Medication must be unexpired and controlled substances are not eligible for donation. Medication dispensed in amber pharmacy vials is not eligible for donation.
SafeNetRx, the Iowa prescription drug repository program, distributed $7.6 million worth of donated medication in 2020. The Georgia Drug Repository Program has saved patients an average of $1200 per patient per year.
I-DROP was sponsored by Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago). “After a decade of work, we've finally passed legislation to reuse millions of dollars of safe, unexpired medications in Illinois,” said Guzzardi. “Instead of going to an incinerator, these drugs will go to people in need across our state. Thanks to the tireless work of an incredible coalition of advocates, I'm proud to send this bill to the Governor, and I look forward to his signing it into law.”
“As the cost of prescription drugs continues to skyrocket, it’s important that we protect Illinois families by working to lower the cost of prescription drugs and finding alternatives to purchasing medication at market value. Illinoisans should not have to choose between putting food on the table and affording their prescriptions,” said senate sponsor Sen. Karina Villa (D-Batavia).
Patients across Illinois will benefit. “The Illinois Association of Free and Charitable Clinics is grateful to all who supported this essential legislation, especially Rep. Guzzardi and Sen. Villa. With Governor Pritzker’s signature, donated medicines will now be available at Free and Charitable Clinics for the most vulnerable yet resilient uninsured and underinsured patients, some with chronic health conditions that require medications,” said Melissa Maguire, LSW, Executive Director Illinois Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.