Lawmaker says taxpayer money wasted on excess medications

November 12, 2018 06:41 PM

Home delivery of prescription medications can be a time and money saver, but Assemblyman John McDonald says it could lead to a huge waste of taxpayer money.

Many people get their medications for free, or for a fraction of the full cost. However, McDonald says that's due in part to tax dollars going toward funding Medicare, Medicaid as well as state and local government employees' insurance plans.

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He says medication pictured in a photo he posted to Facebook last week is worth over $3,000. The photo was taken at Stone's Pharmacy in Lake Luzerne.

The patient called to cancel deliveries, but the mail order company kept sending it. Now McDonald is looking to pass a state law that would hold pharmacies accountable for medication waste.

McDonald says the 33 bottles of Dilatin, which is an anti-seizure medication, cost about $3,400. He says that pales in comparison to some of the wasted medication he sees at his pharmacy.

McDonald is a pharmacist and owns Marra's Pharmacy in Cohoes. He says he'll get patients coming in with $30,000-$50,000 in unused medication.

McDonald says he wants to pass a state law that would mandate pharmacies that deliver or mail prescriptions get consent from patients before making each delivery. He says consent can be given to the postal worker, pharmacy delivery person, or online via e-sign applications.

Should the pharmacies continue to send unneeded medication, they would be held responsible for retrieving the medication, reversing the insurance claim and disposing of the medication.

McDonald has proposed similar legislation before that did not pass.

He says the previous version didn't pass because legislators were worried about preventing patients from having the medication they need on hand at all times. 

He is still working on clearly defining consent for this bill. McDonald says he is confident that adding the mail order consent process can help cut back on medication waste.

The Legislature won't be back in session for a few more months, but McDonald hopes the rising cost of healthcare and advances in e-sing technology will encourage state lawmakers to reconsider the measure.

McDonald believes the law could end up lowering premiums for everyone in New York.


Emily Burkhard

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