Selected SLC Research

Policy Analysis | January 1, 2010

Which SLC states have drug recycling programs?


While federal guidelines simply insist that prescription drugs be thrown in the garbage or flushed down a toilet (if the prescription specifies that this is environmentally safe), states have actually done a lot on developing recycling programs.Currently, 38 states in the nation have laws and programs that create prescription drug "recycling," "repository" or "redistribution" mechanisms for unused medications.Generally, these laws include restrictions for ensuring purity and safety of the products, in order to protect the patient that will ultimately obtain the drug.This means that, in general, states require that drugs not be expired; have a verifiable (future) expiration date; not be "controlled substances" (i.e., illegal drugs); and be verified by a state-licensed pharmacist or pharmacy.Also, the person who is to receive the medication must have a valid prescription from his or her doctor.

Below are summaries of the laws that have been enacted in the 15 SLC states.Many states (e.g., Louisiana, Missouri) first passed laws that authorized the practice of redistributing medications, and then went back and actually created programs to collect and redistribute the drugs from and to the appropriate entities.Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia currently do not have legislation pertaining to this issue.In fact, South Carolina has legislation that restricts the practice.North Carolina, however, has been investigating the prospect of creating a program. Where available, the bill numbers have hyperlinks that can be clicked to view the full text of the legislation.

Drug Recycling Legislation in the SLC States



Drug Recycling Legislation by SLC State

State Legislation
Alabama None
Arkansas In 2005, the state passed a law (HB1031) that allows reuse of drugs that are in their original sealed or tamper-resistant packaging. Donated medications can only come from nursing facilities, and they can only be distributed through charitable clinic pharmacies to appropriately screened and qualified indigent patients who are not eligible for Medicaid but cannot afford private health insurance.
Florida In 2003, the state authorized a drug reuse program (SB22A).In 2006, the state passeda law (HB371) creating a program whereby unused cancer drugs and supplies (in their original, unopened and tamper-resistant packaging) can be donated by individuals, healthcare facilities, hospitals, pharmacies, drug manufacturers, medical device manufacturers and suppliers, or other entities.The drugs or supplies can be distributed through physicians' offices, pharmacies, hospitals, hospice-care providers, or healthcare clinics to any resident of the state, except those who are eligible for Medicaid or are under any other prescription drug program funded in whole or in part by the state.
Georgia In 1997, Georgia passed the first known state law allowing reuse of prescription drugs within long-term care facilities.In 2006, the state revised the program (HB430) to collect and redistribute these medications.Any person, including drug manufacturers or healthcare facilities, can donate unused prescription drugs to the repository program.The medications are then redistributed to pharmacies, hospitals or nonprofit clinics that participate in the program.They then issue the drugs to medically indigent persons who are residents of the state.
Kentucky In 2005, Kentucky passed a law (SB23) that sets up a program for redistributing prescription drugs collected from health facilities and pharmacies to other health facilities or pharmacies that participate in the program.Any individual who is a resident of the state and meets general requirements (e.g., possessing a prescription from a doctor) can receive the medications.
Louisiana In 1998, Louisiana began a pilot project for prescription drug reuse, without statutory authority.In 2004, the state enacted a law (HB1402) authorizing prescription drug reuse in the state.Any person, including drug manufactures, hospitals, healthcare facilities, or government entities can donate medications, which are then distributed to charitable pharmacies.Any appropriately screened and qualified patients can receive the medications.In 2006, the state passed a law (SB19) that set up a program that routed these medications to charitable pharmacies, and required them to accept any donated drugs.
Mississippi In 2003, the state passed a law (SB2758) that creates a prescription drug repository.Medications can be donated by the State Board of Pharmacy, the State Department of Health, the Division of Medicaid, or any person, including drug manufacturers, healthcare facilities or government entities.The medications are redistributed to pharmacies, hospitals, nonprofit clinics or healthcare professionals that participate in the program.Medications are dispersed to individuals, other government entities, or nonprofit private entities who meet basic eligibility requirements.
Missouri In 2004, the state created a program (HB898) that collects prescription drugs donated by any person or entity, as long as the medications are sealed and unopened.The drugs are redistributed to any pharmacy, hospital or nonprofit clinic that participates in the program.All residents of the state who meet basic qualifications are eligible to receive medications.In 2006, the state passed a law (HB1687) that allows prescription drugs donated to the repository to be distributed to out-of-state charitable repositories.
North Carolina None
Oklahoma In 2001, Oklahoma authorized an unused medication program for long-term care facilities (HB1297).In 2005, the state expanded the program (SB1640) to allow transfer of prescription drugs from residential care homes, nursing facilities, assisted living centers, public intermediate care facilities for people with mental retardation, or pharmaceutical manufacturers to pharmacies operated by a county, or city-county health department, or a pharmacy under contract with such departments, as well as pharmacies operated by the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and charitable clinics.All Oklahoma residents who are medically indigent are eligible to receive medication.
South Carolina None
Tennessee In 2006, the state passed a law (HB3560) that creates a program for redistributing unused prescription medications from nursing homes or hospice services to charitable clinic pharmacies.All Tennessee residents who are indigent are eligible to receive the medications.
Texas In 2007, the state passeda law (SB1896) that allows unused drugs to be donated by a pharmacist who practices in or serves as a consultant for a healthcare facility or a licensed healthcare professional responsible for administration of drugs in a penal institution.The medications are redistributed to any pharmacy in the state, whereby they can be issued to any eligible patient.
Virginia In 2002, Virginia enacted a law (HB154) authorizing prescription drug reuse in the state. Medications are donated by authorized hospitals who originally dispensed them (but have been returned by the patient).The drugs are redistributed to pharmacies who then can issue the medication to indigent patients, who are not charged for the drugs.In 2005, the state expanded (HB1854) the list of distributing agencies to include clinics.In 2009, the state expanded the program to allow hospitals to dispense donated drugs.
West Virginia None