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Legislative Update March 2002

Drug Repository Bill, Substitute HB 4, Medicare Pharmacy Benefit Legislation

March 2002 Legislative Update
Alyson Welsh, Director of Government Affairs
Drug Repository Bill Receiving Hearings in the Ohio House of Representatives
Substitute House Bill 221, sponsored by State Representative Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), would establish a drug repository program for the collection and re-dispensing of prescription drugs that are in their original unopened packaging. These drugs would be dispensed to individuals who meet eligibility standards set by the Director of the Ohio Department of Health. The Ohio House of Representatives Health & Family Services Committee accepted a substitute bill on January 30, 2002. Substitute HB 221 no longer offers a tax credit for individuals who donate prescription drugs to the program and also now requires participating pharmacies and nonprofit clinics to evaluate the drugs for tampering and to dispense them to eligible individuals.

Substitute HB 221 states, “Only drugs in their original packaging may be accepted and dispensed. The packaging must be unopened, except that drugs packaged in single unit doses may be accepted and dispensed when the outside packaging is opened if the singe unit dose packaging is undisturbed. A drug shall not be dispensed if there is reason to believe that it is adulterated…”

The bill also states that the State Board of Pharmacy in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Health will adopt rules governing the program that will do the following:
•create standards and procedures for accepting, storing, and dispensing donated drugs;
•list the drugs that may be accepted under the program, which may include separate lists of drugs that may be accepted from individuals and drugs that may be accepted from health care facilities;
•include procedures for inspecting drugs to determine that they are not adulterated;
•list eligibility standards based on economic need for individuals to receive drugs;
•include the maximum amount of the fee that may be charged by the pharmacy or nonprofit clinic for dispensing a drug that has been donated;
•include any other standards and procedures the Director considers appropriate.

Additionally, the bill states that any participating pharmacy shall not, in the absence of bad faith, be subject to liability in tort or other civil action for injury, death, or loss to person or property, criminal prosecution, or professional disciplinary action. Under current State Board of Pharmacy regulation 4729-9-04, the redispensing of drugs that have left the community pharmacy and given to a patient is prohibited.

OPA is working with all parties involved in this bill to explain our concern of the redistribution of prescription drugs.

Substitute House Bill 4 Accepted by Ohio Senate Health Committee
On Wednesday, February 13, 2002, the Ohio Senate Health Committee accepted Sub. HB Bill 4. This version of HB 4 eliminates the requirement for the state to contract with a Pharmacy Benefits Manager (PBM), and instead would require the Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) to annually develop and publish an evaluation that compares with one another private prescription drug discount card programs available to Ohio residents who are 60 or older or disabled. Sub. HB 4 also states that the ODA must include the following information in each evaluation:
1. the name of the program;
2. the program’s eligibility requirements;
3. the cost of participating in the program, if any;
4. the prescription drugs or types of prescription drugs included in the program;
5. the program’s ranking compared to other programs in the evaluation;
6. any other information pertaining to the program that the department considers useful to consumers.

Under Sub. HB 4, the ODA will distribute copies of the evaluations to places where numbers of eligible residents reside or frequently visit, including multipurpose senior centers.
Sub. HB 4 is still under consideration in the Ohio Senate Health Committee. Chairman Lynn Wachtmann has been adamant in expressing his opinion that an “informed” senior is the best shopper for finding reduced prescription drug costs and that the state should educate seniors on the programs that already exist. OPA has been working with Chairman Wachtmann and other interested parties to express our support of this concept. Governor Taft stated his desire for the Ohio Senate to pass HB 4 by the end of February and have it on his desk for his signature as soon as possible.

Medicare Pharmacy Benefit Legislation
A bill is being circulated in the United States House of Representatives that would propose to create a Medicare pharmacy benefit that contains the principles advocated by the Pharmacy Benefits All Coalition: open access, adequate payment for both products and services. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA) has already expressed criticism on the bill because it contains language that creates rebates similar to that which exists in the Medicaid program.

We need your support to help create a push for HR 3626 (the Emerson/Ross bill). Please call your representative in the U.S. House of Representatives to encourage their sponsorship of this legislation.

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