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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    
May 17, 2012

For More Information, Contact:
Lisa Gardiner (916) 651-4011 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Phil Yost (650) 688-6834 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


SACRAMENTO – Today, the State Senate unanimously passed a bill by State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) which would make it easier for surplus, unopened medication to be donated to uninsured Californians. The vote was 38-0.

Every year, billions in unused medicine and supplies are wasted in the United States. Senate Bill 1329 allows a greater number of health care facilities to donate surplus unopened, unexpired medications to Californians in need; permits non-profit community clinics and certain pharmacies to receive donated medications; and makes it easier for county boards of supervisors or county public health officials to initiate a drug redistribution program.

“This bill allows us to get perfectly good medicine – medicine that might otherwise be thrown out, or dumped in our water supply – into the hands of people who need it the most,” Simitian said. “This is a creative, common sense solution that’s particularly appropriate during these tough economic times, when the state and counties are strapped and many Californians are struggling.”

The bill is sponsored by SIRUM (Supporting Initiatives to Redistribute Unused Medicine), a non-profit founded at Stanford that is dedicated to streamlining the medicine donation process. Since 2009, drug redistribution programs in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties coordinated by SIRUM have helped thousands of uninsured patients and redistributed 230,000 pills with an estimated value of $600,000. SB 1329 takes the next logical step and expands the pool of suppliers and recipients.

“By taking this next step, we hope to expand this successful drug redistribution program to reach more patients in need,” Simitian said.

SB 1329 builds on previous Simitian legislation. Senate Bill 798, signed into law in 2005, allowed counties to establish drug redistribution programs; allowed skilled nursing facilities and drug manufacturers to donate unused medications; and allowed county pharmacies to dispense the donated drugs to the underserved free of charge. The idea for the bill, from a group of Stanford medical students, was a winner in Simitian’s 2005 “There Oughta Be a Law” contest.