It should come as no surprise to anyone working in a long-term care facility, or the long-term care industry as a whole, that prescription medications frequently go unused. A recent report issued by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) stated that $2 billion worth of medications are discarded annually from long-term care facilities alone.
That same report stated that hospitals throw out more than $3 billion worth of medications every year.
States with repositories, however, are trying to stem the tide of wasted medications. More than two dozen states across the country have active repository programs, which allow facilities to donate unused medications for someone else to use. Additional states have approved the development of repository programs, but they haven’t yet gotten off the ground.
A select few states have created repository programs specifically for cancer medications, aiming to help cancer patients who are unable to afford the medications they need. Kettering Health, an Ohio-based network of medical centers, recently announced the launch of its own oral chemotherapy repository program.
Once the medications are donated, a patient qualifies to receive it through the repository by demonstrating a financial need or an inability to pay for treatment they need.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology Journal recently published an article that discussed the development and implementation of an oral chemotherapy repository. The report determined that with strategic planning, an oral chemotherapy repository is not only feasible but can be successful.
The report noted that many cancer patients rely on oral chemotherapy regimens as the first line of treatment, including “certain lung cancers, renal cell carcinoma, chronic myelogenous, and lymphocytic leukemia.” However, the costs associated with oral chemotherapy treatment can reach several thousand dollars a month, even if a patient is insured.
A particularly sobering statistic cited in the report indicates that oncology-related death rates in states with the highest poverty rates are about 20% higher when compared to wealthier states, underscoring the need for oral chemotherapy repositories.
As for the health systems that decide to develop and implement an oral chemotherapy repository, the report found that the effort also resulted in cost savings and reduced waste — which is the overarching idea behind the entire concept. Potential obstacles to implementing a repository in general, according to the NCSL, are a lack of public awareness, a lack of financial resources to support such an undertaking, and burdensome requirements and administrative work.
However, as providers and pharmacists who work with patient populations that often live within limited or fixed budgets, it’s important to know when new resources are available to facilitate needed treatment — be it from the medication donation side or the medication recipient side. Innovation in this area, it seems, benefits the system of care as a whole, from patient to pharmacy to provider.
At UnitedRX, we deliver a hometown pharmacy experience to more than 400 clients across the country. Contact us to learn more about how our approach to treatment can meet the pharmacy needs of your long-term care facility.