Published Online: Sunday, July 1, 2007

A new group of "specialty HIV pharmacies" would be designated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to dispense AIDS drugs to certain former federal prisoners, under legislation introduced by Rep Diane Watson (D, Calif).

Whether Rep Watson's "After Care Act of 2007" is designed to protect the public, pharmacists, or HIV-positive drug diverters is open to some question. Under the legislation, all federal inmates would be checked for the HIV virus before being released from prison, and those who test positive would be assigned to a counselor who would enroll the prisoner in the Medicaid drug program and ensure that "the individual is supported through the difficult transition from incarceration to the streets."

Former inmates would be prohibited from selling their federally supplied antiretrovirals and other costly AIDS drugs on the street. If they did, they would continue to receive government drug benefits, under Watson's bill. The only penalty for drug dealing: offenders would be required to secure AIDS drugs from HHSapproved specialty HIV pharmacies instead of from their local drugstore.

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