Utah Senate votes to expand charitable prescription drug program

A bill that would expand the state’s charitable prescription drug program passed out of the Utah Senate on Tuesday.

During a committee hearing on Senate Bill 97, Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, said the state’s five-year-old program to donate prescription drugs to low-income cancer patients had hit some roadblocks since it was launched.

“We put it in place. As all good ideas sometimes go to the trash heap, nobody used it,” he said.

The current policy allows pharmacies or physicians to donate the prescription drugs, which would then be provided free of cost to eligible recipients through separate health care providers. Sen. Vickers’s SB 97 would modify the program to allow individuals to donate drugs to health care providers as well, so long as they meet certain standards, like being unopened, unexpired and still in the manufacturer’s case.

Sen. Vickers says changes included in his bill, like making out-of-state visitors eligible for the program, came as a result of working with constituents who want to use the program, but were blocked by gaps in policy.

“This is how sometimes a policy and a program works. You work with people who are on the ground level, you know boots-on-the-ground, figuring out how to best make it work. These are the suggestions we have to improve the program this year,” he said.

The bill passed out of the Senate unanimously and is now heading to the House of Representatives.

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