Bartels proposes prescription drug recycling program

INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Stephen Bartels (R-Eckerty) authored legislation to create a prescription drug recycling program in Indiana to reduce waste and provide Hoosiers with greater access to affordable medications.

More than 80% of Americans regularly use prescription drugs, costing an average of $1,200 per person annually, according to the AARP. Bartels said many medications go unused. A University of Chicago study found that nearly $5 billion worth of drugs in unopened packs are thrown away every year.

“An obscene amount of medicine ends up in the trash every year and these perfectly good, unused drugs could really save Hoosiers money,” Bartels said. “Long-term care facilities alone account for $2 billion in discarded medications. We can work with these facilities to curb waste and reduce the cost of health care.”

Bartels authored legislation for Indiana to join 27 other states with prescription drug repository programs. If passed, Hoosiers could donate certain unopened and unexpired prescription drugs and medical supplies at pre-approved facilities. Donations would be inspected by pharmacists and distributed to pharmacies and medical providers across the state, which could then offer them to eligible recipients for free or at a reduced price.

Recipients of the medication would either have an income of less than 200% of the federal poverty level or not be eligible for pharmaceutical coverage through a government program or private insurance.

Bartels said cancer drugs, HIV drugs and medications for organ transplants could be donated to start, with the goal of adding other prescriptions based on the success of the program. Bartels said controlled substances would not be accepted.

According to Bartels, Iowa and its similar drug repository program collected more than $8 million in donated prescription drugs in 2021.

House Bill 1057 is assigned to the House Public Health Committee for consideration. To learn more and watch legislative proceedings, visit

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