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First-year DWT associate Bradley Tubbs, working pro bono, has helped draft and pass a new Washington state law that allows people with unused prescription drugs to donate them to the underinsured. The bill passed both houses of the state legislature without an opposing vote and was signed by Governor Jay Inslee last month.

Bradley is an M&A lawyer with no particular interest in health care or lobbying. But he got involved in the issue through a high school friend, Jonathan Van Keulen, who was diagnosed a couple years ago with a rare form of childhood cancer and given only a few months to live. The friend was lucky enough to go into remission, but not before he and his wife, Becky, decided they wanted to help enhance the two main oncology wards in Spokane, where he was treated.

Bradley helped the couple form a 501(c)(3) called Cancer Can’t, which raised over $100,000 to update the wards with new furniture, paint, beds, and refrigerators.

Next, the team turned to the issue of drugs. Once in remission, Jonathan found he had $10K worth of unused, unneeded cancer drugs in his possession. But Washington law did not allow him to do anything with them. "There are so many people who can’t afford treatment," says Bradley. "This just seemed wrong."

Numerous other states have Charitable Pharmacy Acts, which allow donation of unused prescription drugs under varying conditions. The team set about trying to get such a law passed in Washington. “I reached out to a couple of representatives from Eastern Washington,” says Bradley. "Kevin Parker, a Republican from Spokane, ended up championing the bill and taking it to the House Wellness Committee." Bradley assisted the staff with drafting.

Seven months later, the bill became law, overcoming opposition from three major pharmaceutical companies. It allows anyone licensed to practice medicine or pharmacy to receive and redistribute donated drugs to qualified patients.

"The state has tried to pass similar legislation on two different occasions within the last 20 years and has rejected it," says Bradley, "so this marks a significant positive turn in state policy which bodes well for future related initiatives."

Now comes another challenge: implementation. "Five states have passed similar laws but don’t have an active program," says Bradley. "No one’s taken it from being allowed to actually doing it. We’re very cognizant of that and making sure we’re following up. The American Cancer Society has pledged to support the implementation and several pharmacy associations in the state are working with us."

Sadly, Jonathan’s cancer returned during the legislative campaign. He lived to see the bill he generously championed signed into law, but passed away shortly after.