Senators Introduce Bill to Reduce 'Colossal and Completely Preventable Waste'

ProPublica, November 2, 2017

The bipartisan effort calls for FDA and CMS to devise plan to reduce billions of dollars in waste annually.

This article first appeared October 31, 2017 on ProPublica.

by Marshall Allen

Two U.S. senators introduced legislation Tuesday requiring federal agencies to come up with solutions to the waste caused by oversized eyedrops and single-use drug vials, citing a ProPublica story published earlier this month.

The bipartisan effort by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, calls for the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to come up with a plan to reduce the waste, which is estimated to cost billions of dollars a year.

“With the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs, American taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the bill for medicine going to waste,” Klobuchar said in a press release announcing the bill, known as the Reducing Drug Waste Act of 2017. Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., are co-sponsors of the legislation.

Grassley called it “common sense” legislation. “It’s no secret that wasteful health care spending is a significant contributor to the rising cost of health care in the United States,” he said in the release.

ProPublica’s story showed how drug companies force patients to pay for expensive liquid medications, such as eyedrops and cancer drugs, which are produced or packaged in ways that lead to waste. Drug companies have known for decades that eyedrops are larger than what the eye can hold — sometimes two or three times too big. As a result, the excess medication overflows the eye and runs down users’ cheeks or is ingested through their eye ducts. This waste causes some patients to run out of medicine before their insurers allow them to refill their prescriptions.

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