Pharmacists Forced To Throw Out $30K In Auto-Refilled Prescriptions

What happens when your mail-order prescriptions keep on coming, automatically refilling month after month? If you pass away, your family might just find a cache worth $30,000 in unopened, expired meds, and give it to a local pharmacist to deal with, as happened recently in New York.

The part owner of a Cohoes pharmacy (who also happens to be the town’s mayor) is upset over the unused prescriptions that a local resident had stockpiled in his home. He’ll have to send the meds and supplies off to be incinerated.

“Look at this waste. It’s unbelievable,” he told the Times Union, adding that he’d never seen anything like it for 25 years as a pharmacist.

The deceased man’s family dropped off dozens of bottles of pills, insulin, boxes of diabetic test strips and other supplies to treat diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease and allergies.

The man had used mail-order pharmaceutical companies with automatic refill programs, and had such a low or nonexistent co-pay that he didn’t bother to stop the shipments. Since he was a public servant, that cost was being taken out of taxpayers’ dollars.

“The solution to this kind of problem is complicated, but it’s becoming more prevalent than we ever imagined,” said the pharmacist, mentioning another recent case of a woman passing away with thousands of dollars worth of drugs in her home. Those have to be destroyed by law.

The pharmacy ships the unused prescriptions at its own expense, to be incinerated in Texas, in an effort to be friendly to the environment. Usually they see a few bottles dropped off at a time. The pharmacist adds that it’s their mission to stop fraud, waste and abuse, which makes incidents like this recent one upsetting.

“This isn’t fraud,” he said. “But it is waste and it’s definitely abuse for taxpayers who paid for it.”

Issue behind $30G in unused drugs [Times Union]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.