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This should really help a lot of people.


New law to allow donation of leftover cancer drugs

Medicine, supplies will cut burden on needy patients



Posted: April 6, 2004

Cancer treatment is about to get more affordable for some who can least afford it in Wisconsin.

A new law will allow families of cancer patients to donate leftover medications and supplies to hospitals and pharmacies that will redistribute them to other cancer patients who are uninsured or in financial need.

Ohio and Nebraska have similar laws, but the one Gov. Jim Doyle signed Tuesday goes beyond what they provide. It allows medical supplies, not just drugs, to be donated, and allows families, not just hospitals or hospices, to donate them.

Called "Nick's law," it's named for Nick Scavone of Kenosha, who died in November at age 64 after fighting cancer off and on for 20 years. Scavone, an American Cancer Society volunteer, brought the Relay for Life fund-raising event to Wisconsin.

"He was a dynamic person who lived by the motto 'never give up,' " said his wife, Barbara. She decided to do the same thing when confronted with roadblocks to donating about $2,000 worth of medications and supplies after his death.

"I had a closet full of medical supplies that were sealed, and someone else would have been able to use them. I began calling around and found out nobody could accept them, even as a donation," she said.

Eventually, Scavone found a group operating relief missions in Afghanistan and donated the goods to that group. But many cancer patients could have used things in the Scavones' closet, such as iron tablets in sealed bottles and 9-volt batteries to power intravenous medication pumps, said Alison Prange, government relations liaison for the cancer society.

But Wisconsin law banned the reuse of such goods. Paul Markovina, director of marketing for Covenant HealthCare, found the situation frustrating after his father died in January of lung cancer.

"He had Medicare and Medicaid, but he did not have prescription drug coverage, and we're guessing that's a pretty common thing. We were spending about $600 to $700 a month for his medications" - cancer drugs and related medications for blood pressure, digestive problems, anxiety, depression and nausea, Markovina said.

"All of these are very expensive. Even if they come from the factory and are still factory-sealed, you cannot give them to anyone to use. You're told to flush them down the toilet so nobody could get to them or use them for unlawful purposes. That's a shame."

Under the new law, the state Department of Health and Family Services will create rules for inspecting donated drugs to determine whether they are in their original, unopened and sealed packaging. The department also will set rules for people to receive donated drugs. Hospitals and pharmacies will not be able to resell any supplies or drugs that were donated.

Drugs can be donated after a patient dies or if they're left over because a patient's prescription changes and the old medication isn't needed any longer.

The legislation was sponsored by state Sen. Cathy Stepp (R-Sturtevant) and state Rep. Gregg Underheim (R-Oshkosh). The University of Wisconsin's Comprehensive Cancer Center, Aurora Health Care and the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin supported it.

The law may save lives, not just money, said Cindy Tomlinson, constituent relations director for the cancer society in Wisconsin.

"A lot of patients alter the regimens because they cannot afford the regimens that have been prescribed for them," and that compromises their chances of beating cancer, she said.

The cost of drugs "is pricing patients out of life-saving care," Doyle said in a statement.

The governor also signed a bill that creates an income tax checkoff for breast cancer research. On returns next year, people can designate an amount by which to reduce their refund or increase their tax. The money will be split by the UW Medical School and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

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I had just had Chris' Iressia refilled when we found out it wasn't working. I asked the chemo nurse's how I could donate it. They said it was against the law - but- they would let Chris' onc. know.

So he came out of his office and very quietly said, taking them was not kosher, but he wasn't Jewish. (Please no offense to anyone)

I am so glad that he took them to give to someone. They are very expensive and Chris had only taken 2, so there was 28 left.

This should be a mandated law by congress for the whole country. If it's done thru an onc. there should be no problem. Just my 2 cents :)


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Cant believe this is against the law!!!! I know saftey comes first, but still, this could be saving lives!!!

Just cant believe something hasnt been done.

Hopefully this thing posted will get a ball rollin


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