PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota pharmacies will soon be able to voluntarily accept many types of unopened prescriptions and medical devices that can be donated to other patients.

The Legislature’s Rules Review Committee gave the proposed regulations the go-ahead Tuesday. “I like the program,” Senator Timothy Johns, a Lead Republican, said.

It results from a new state law that Representative Marli Wiese proposed in the 2022 legislative session.

The Madison Republican worked with the South Dakota Department of Health to take statewide a pilot program from Avera Health.

In the House committee hearing, no one opposed it. Wiese said 38 other states had such programs. Health Secretary Joan Adam said the legislation was patterned on Georgia’s program. A database for participating pharmacies will be on the state Board of Pharmacy’s website.

Avera senior vice president for public policy, Deb Fischer-Clemens, noted, “Families really appreciate the fact that they can do this. They feel like they are doing one step after their loved one has passed away to take, to help that person even more. They feel really good about this.”

Pharmacies can contact an interactive database to see if another pharmacy has a drug available. Avera Health started a board-approved pilot program more than two years ago. Wiese said patients received their drugs two weeks earlier than they would have through insurance. The Avera pilot received donations valued at $3,205,000 and dispensed medications and devices worth $2,054,800 to 210 patients.

The legislation received a Senate committee’s endorsement too.

“I think this is a very good bill,” Senator Jim Bolin, a Canton Republican, said. “I just think it’s a great idea,” Senator Art Rusch, a Vermillion Republican, said.

“It sounds like a great endeavor and a great effort for South Dakota. I’ll be interested to hear how it plays out,” Senator Blake Curd, a Sioux Falls Republican who’s a surgeon, said.

Curd noted the pilot program’s savings per patient was some $11,000. “So that gives you some idea how expensive medications can be and what an important program this could very well be,” Curd added.