Donations of prescription drugs that would otherwise go to waste helped more than 5,300 low-income Iowans receive needed medications last year. That’s a big increase from the 3,000 Iowans who received the free meds in 2008.

David Fries is Executive Director of the Iowa Prescription Drug Donation Repository Program. “There’s a lot of individuals who simply cannot afford some of the medications that are being prescribed,” Fries said. “Specifically, this past year, because of the economic times…I think that really increased the demand on our program.”

Patients who are uninsured, underinsured or have a family income of less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible to receive the free prescription meds from participating medical facilities and pharmacies. Fries says the donated drugs come primarily from long term care pharmacies and physician’s medication samples. If they weren’t re-dispensed, the drugs would be destroyed.

Fries estimates the value of the prescription medications that were dispensed by the program last year at $762,000. There are restrictions on the drugs that can be donated. Fries says any single-unit dosed medication or medications in their original sealed packaging, except for controlled substances and medications that require refrigeration, can be donated. All donated medications are inspected by a pharmacist prior to being distributed.