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Baltimore's city council this week began examining a plan to redistribute unused medications, including anti-HIV drugs and cancer treatments, to poor people in the city who can't otherwise afford them, TheBaltimore Sun reports. The medications, no longer needed by patients who have died or switched to different treatments, would be collected from hospitals and nursing homes and then made available to poor city residents in need of medical treatment. Similar programs already exist in Oklahoma and Louisiana.
The Baltimore city council's judiciary and legislative investigations committee already has unanimously approved a study of the feasibility and safety of redistributing medication to the poor.
Supports of the proposal say it could provide millions of dollars worth of medications to needy Baltimore residents. "It's a good idea if it can be implemented efficiently and safely," Frank Palumbo, executive director of the University of Maryland's Center on Drugs and Public Policy, told the Sun. "Why should these drugs be thrown away if they're good drugs?" But opponents say it would be an administrative burden to hospital and nursing homes that would have to gather, code, and ship the drugs to pharmacies participating in the redistribution program. (Advocate.com)