ILGA House Human Services Committee Unaminously Passes I-DROP
Updated: Mar 17, 2021
The Illinois Prescription Drug Repository Coalition is pleased to announce that IL HB119, the Illinois Drug Reuse Opportunity Program Act, passed unanimously 15-0 out of the Illinois House Human Services Committee on Tuesday, March 16, promising much needed relief to Illinoisans struggling to afford their 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 Consumer Healthcare Experience State Survey (CHESS) commissioned in January 2020 by Protect Our Care Illinois and Altarum’s Healthcare Value Hub. More than a quarter of respondents (28 percent) cited cost concerns as the driving factor for not filling a prescription or cutting pills in half. Meanwhile thousands of safe, unused, and unexpired prescriptions paid for by Illinoisans are incinerated or flushed into Illinois waterways every year.
Oncology pharmacist Elizabeth Lindquist of Roscoe Township has been advocating for this bill since 2019 and said, “After a career of watching patients being unable to afford life-saving medications and in the same day having to dispose of safe unopened medication worth thousands, I’m relieved to see Prescription Drug Repositories come one step closer to legalization.”
House Bill 119, the Illinois Drug Reuse Opportunity Program (I-DROP) Act, combines 14 years of experience across 38 states to legalize Prescription Drug Repositories. These programs collect safe, unused, and unexpired medications from people and providers that no longer need them, and make them available at minimal cost to patients in need. An established Prescription Drug Repository in Iowa, SafeNetRx, distributed $7.6 million worth of medication in 2020.
Physician Alan Hutchison began advocating for Prescription Drug Repositories in 2019 while working in a homeless shelter. “I saw the need first-hand ... ,” said Dr. Hutchison. “That’s why we built a bipartisan coalition of support for this program to get medications to people in need.”
Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) is the I-DROP Act’s primary sponsor in the House, and he is joined by co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle and across the state. He has worked closely alongside grassroots advocates, patient safety groups, and the non-profit SIRUM, which runs the largest redistribution program in the nation, “It has been an honor to work with such a devoted set of grassroots advocates on a proven and common-sense policy to help Illinoisans struggling to afford healthcare,” Guzzardi said.
There is no one special interest group behind I-DROP: its advocates are individual physicians and pharmacists desperate to help their patients, and patients desperate to help each other, speaking out on social media and finding each other, then building a broad and deep well of support, now the Illinois Prescription Drug Repository Coalition (https://www.ilrxdrugrepository.org/). Supporting organizations include the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the Illinois Environmental Council, Illinois Pharmacists Association, the Illinois Association for Free and Charitable Clinics, the Illinois chapters of the American College of Physicians, Doctors for America, Hektoen Institute of Medicine, SafeNetRx, the Illinois Medical Oncology Society, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, and SIRUM.
I-DROP (HB119 and SB516) heads to the full IL House floor for a vote, and is pending assignment to a Senate committee. Media contacts and questions can be referred to Illinois Prescription Drug Repository Coalition members Elizabeth Lindquist, PharmD ( firstname.lastname@example.org) or Alan Hutchison, MD, PhD (Alan.L.Hutchison@gmail.com).