Health and Human Services

Prescription drug donation program clears first round

Nebraska would establish a program to allow the donation of prescription drugs under a bill advanced from general file Feb. 14.

Sen. Jana Hughes
Sen. Jana Hughes

LB1035, sponsored by Sen. Jana Hughes of Seward, would require the state Department of Health and Human Services to create a prescription drug donation program that permits voluntary donations and the dispensing of qualifying prescription drugs.

Hughes said she introduced the bill after a constituent told her of the struggle to keep her late father’s prescription drugs from going to waste.

Nebraska currently has a drug take-back program, she said, but not a donation program. Hughes said the state spends approximately $500,000 to collect and dispose of an average of 30,000 pounds of prescriptions annually under that program — medication that otherwise could be donated.

LB1035 instead would allow qualifying unused medication to be diverted to Nebraskans who cannot afford their medication, she said, including individuals who are transitioning out of the state’s justice system.

“LB1035 can help those who presently fall through the cracks in accessing their prescriptions,” Hughes said.

Under the bill, medications could be donated by individuals or entities, including manufacturers or health care facilities. Donations must:
• undergo inspection prior to donation;
• be in original, unopened, sealed and tamper-evident packaging;
• bear an expiration date more than six months after the donation date, except in limited cases; and
• not be restricted for distribution by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Hughes offered an amendment, adopted 34-0, that replaced the bill. Under the amendment, Nebraska would partner with Iowa’s donation program, which she said would significantly reduce the cost to the state.

“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel here,” Hughes said, adding that Iowa’s program has been in place since 2007.

Ralston Sen. Merv Riepe supported the bill and the amendment, which he said would keep prescription drugs out of landfills and provide needed medications to low-income Nebraskans.

Sen. George Dungan of Lincoln also spoke in support of the proposal. LB1035 fits the “theme” of the 2024 legislative session, he said, by focusing on measures that benefit a large number of people while also saving taxpayer dollars.

Following adoption of a second technical amendment from Hughes on a 34-0 vote, senators advanced the bill to select file 34-0.

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