This is a blog for the Mental Health Policy Class at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work.

April 10, 2008

States 'recycle' meds to battle costs

The struggle to keep soaring medical costs in check is feeding an increase in state programs that collect unused prescription drugs to give away to the uninsured and poor. Some states allow donations of sealed drugs from individuals, while others only accept pharmaceuticals from institutions, such as doctor's offices or assisted-living homes. Drugs are typically vetted by pharmacists to cross-check safety, then distributed by hospitals, pharmacies or charitable clinics. The type of drugs donated run the gamut and include antibiotics, antipsychotics, blood thinners and antidepressants. At least 33 states have laws to allow or study drug recycling programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Most state programs are just a few years old or still in the test stages, but officials envision huge gains.

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