CMS Orders Return of Some Unused Rx Drugs to Pharmacies
CMS has ordered state Medicaid programs to require nursing homes to return unused medications to pharmacies and to ensure Medicaid is repaid for unused treatments when nursing home patients die, are discharged or have their prescriptions changed, according to a March 22 letter, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
In the letter, Dennis Smith, director of the Center for Medicaid and State Operations at CMS, also wrote that state Medicaid programs should limit the amount of medications provided to nursing homes at one time to "help to curtail prescription drug waste." The new policy, which takes effect on April 1, will not affect nursing home patients who are also covered through Medicare.
The American Health Care Association, which represents the long-term care industry, estimated that the policy will affect about 90,000 to 100,000 nursing home patients. The policy will reduce waste in the health care system and might prompt states to enact similar policies.
Lee Millman, a spokesperson for the Atlanta regional office of CMS, said that the reuse of unused medications "has become more of an issue" as prescription drugs have become more expensive. Nursing home patients on average use about six different medications monthly, and, provided that they remain in proper safety packaging, "there's no reason not to recycle them," Millman said.
According to the Journal-Constitution, the "amount of drugs wasted annually is unknown, but it's potentially enormous, possibly $1 billion or more" (Miller, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3/27).