July 23, 2014

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Allen Memorial offers unused drugs to poor

OBERLIN — Low-income patients at one northern Ohio hospital soon will be able to save hundreds of dollars on prescription medicine thanks to donations from nursing homes.

The pilot program will provide medicines that can cost hundreds of dollars for a 90-day supply for just $13.

The medications could be for diabetes, heart disease, blood pressure or other illnesses for patients at Allen Memorial Hospital. Until now, free medicines have been handed out through county programs, not hospitals.

“They are very excited about it,” said Tanas Wilcox of the Lorain County General Health District. “We want to start small and expand it in other parts of the county.”

Patients who can’t afford the $13 won’t be denied the medication, Wilcox said.

A donor agreed to give a large amount of unused pills to Buderer’s Compounding Pharmacy in Sandusky, which will package and mail out the medications.

The drugs are new and sealed.

“We get a foot-square cube stuffed to the brim with medication every other day,” said Susan Daugherty, executive director of Saving
Our Seniors, which runs a medicine distribution program in Erie County. “It’s more than we can use for our clients,” she said. “We suggested that Lorain County share the medications.”

Ohio legislators in 2002 approved a law that allows nursing homes and wholesale drug companies to redistribute unused medication to the poor instead of destroying the drugs.

Ohio was the first state in the nation with such a law. Stark County was the first to begin such a program in 2004.

Many other states have similar laws. In North Carolina, about $6 million worth of recycled drugs are distributed every year.

The idea for the law came from Gary Beltz. His wife, Karon, died of complications of breast cancer in 1999 and he decided it did not make sense to destroy $6,700 worth of her unopened medication.

Beltz spoke with state Sen. Kirk Schuring, R-Massillon, who promoted the legislation allowing unused drugs to be redistributed to the poor.