Working 4 You: Cancer Can't medication donation

SPOKANE, Wash. - It's a life saving law that goes into effect January 1: the Cancer Can't charitable pharmacy act. Cancer Can't allows people to donate their unused medication back to participating pharmacies for the uninsured and the under-insured.

Starting this weekend, people will be able to go onto the Washington State Department of Health's website and download a form releasing liability of their medications and take it to their pharmacist to donate. However, there are a few hang ups in the process, and until they are resolved, it may make donating your medication a little tricky.

Currently, the Department of Health and the Washington State Pharmacy Association is working to come up with a set of rules for pharmacists to follow. Until those are released, pharmacists may be not want to assume the liability of the donated medication. Pharmacies will have to essentially make up their own rules in the meantime, including defining what under-insured means, something the Pharmacy Association and the Department of Health are trying to define themselves.

Champions of the bill, Becky Van Keulen and her late husband Jonathan, insisted on including under-insured in the bill so they can help people who may have a $15,000 deductible and are choosing to feed their families instead of take life-saving medication.

“We left it open-ended so as many people can get their hands on these medications as possible and we did that on purpose, but now you have the pharmacists who are redistributing and asking 'what does under-insured mean, who qualifies,'" said Becky Van Keulen.

Once the rules are released, a database will be set up where patients and pharmacists can go online and see what pharmacies in Washington have certain medications.  

If you know someone who needs your medication, this gives you an avenue to do so, because just giving it to them is illegal. 

There are certain medications that cannot be donated, such as narcotics and loose pills. To avoid that, you can request your pharmacist wrap your pills individually so they can be donated.

Another thing you can do is talk with your pharmacist, make sure they know about this bill and would be willing to participate.

The next public hearing to discuss the rules is in January. The Department of Health wants to hear from families who have medications to donate, as well as families who are unable to afford potentially life-saving medications.