Drug Recycling Bill Could Save Millions

Programs to distribute unused, unopened medication to the poor would be expanded.


A bill that would make it easier for surplus, unopened medication to be donated to uninsured Californians is on Gov. Brown’s desk.

The State Senate passed Senator Joe Simitian’s (D-Palo Alto) SB 1329 Thursday.

Counties have been allowed to establish such programs since 2005. This new bill would streamline the process. Since 2009, drug redistribution programs in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties have helped thousands of uninsured patients and redistributed 230,000 pills with an estimated value of $600,000.

According to Simitian’s office, billions of dollars worth of unused medicine and supplies are wasted in the United States each year.

“This is a creative, commonsense way to get perfectly good medicine – medicine that might otherwise be thrown out, or dumped in our water supply – into the hands of the people who need it the most,” Simitian said. “This is particularly important during this tough economy when many Californians are struggling.”

Specifically, SB 1329 allows a greater number of health care facilities to donate surplus, unopened, unexpired medications to Californians in need; permits non-profit community clinics and certain pharmacies to receive the donated medications; and makes it easier for county boards of supervisors or county public health officials to initiate a drug redistribution program.

The bill was sponsored by SIRUM (Supporting Initiatives to Redistribute Unused Medicine), a nonprofit founded at Stanford.

The Governor has until September 30 to act on the measure.


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