State Senate Passes Bill to Require Drug Manufacturer Buy-Backs

drugsBARNSTABLE – Legislation that would establish a first-of-its-kind program to require pharmaceutical companies to buy back unused prescription drugs voluntarily turned over by patients or confiscated by police was passed by the Massachusetts Senate last week.

Cape and Islands Senator Dan Wolf (D-Harwich) sponsored the legislation which would see the proceeds fund drug treatment and prevention efforts.

“Pharmaceutical companies must join us all in fighting drug abuse, and this is an important way for them to do that,” Wolf said. “So when painkilling pills are over-prescribed, or stolen for resale, surely pharmaceutical companies should welcome this opportunity to compensate our communities and create a strong incentive to reduce excess supply.”

Wolf said only about 58 percent of the drugs are actually used for the purpose of their manufacture and the other 42 percent are hitting the streets or being discarded.

“We want to find a mechanism to submit those drugs back to the pharmaceuticals, and have them return revenue made in their sale,” Wolf said. “It is a fair, just, balanced way to approach this and it would create funding for prevention and treatment.”

The legislation would have the drug companies work with the Massachusetts Department of Health to create a program to assess a price per pill recovered, levy a fee for each pill to the manufacturer and put those fees into a fund to support treatment programs to fight drug abuse.

A plan would have to be submitted to the Legislature by January 2018. The amendment now moves to the House for consideration.

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