September 29th 'National Prescription Drug Take Back Day' follows up New York's new I-STOP Law in fight against prescription drug abuse

Thomas F. O'Mara

September 28, 2012

Elmira, N.Y., September 28—State Senator Tom O’Mara (R-C, Big Flats) reminded area residents today that Saturday, September 29, 2012 is "National Prescription Drug Take Back Day" and law enforcement agencies across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions will operate drop-off centers for people to anonymously dispose of their unused and unwanted prescription drugs.

“It’s incredibly important that our law enforcement leaders are taking part in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.  Their ongoing leadership in this overall effort to combat the alarming rise of prescription drug abuse will make all the difference,” said O’Mara. 

He also noted that Saturday’s take back day follows up and builds on this year’s legislative effort to make New York State a national leader in the fight against prescription drug abuse. 

Earlier this year the State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo enacted a landmark law called the “Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act,” commonly known as I-STOP.  Among many provisions, I-STOP creates a new and updated prescription monitoring program within the state Department of Health (DOH),  recognizes the need for increased education among health care providers about the potential for abuse of controlled substances, and requires the DOH to establish a program for the safe disposal of unused controlled substances by consumers. 

O’Mara strongly supported I-STOP’s approval, noting that in 2010 over 22 million prescriptions for painkilling drugs were written in New York State – not including refills.

“That’s a stunning figure, especially in a state where the entire population is less than twenty million,” O’Mara said.  “Prescription drug abuse has emerged as one of America’s most alarming, tragic and urgent public health challenges.  This action places New York at the forefront of addressing it and attempting to save lives, especially young lives. ”

On Saturday law enforcement agencies throughout the nation, including right here in the Southern  Tier and Finger Lakes regions, have established drop-off centers to allow people to anonymously dispose of unwanted prescription drugs.  See the following links for more information on local drop-off centers that will be open on Saturday, September 29th, National Prescription Drug Take Back Day:

-- For Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben counties, CLICK HERE;

-- For Yates County, CLICK HERE; and

-- For Tompkins County, CLICK HERE.

Illicit use of prescription medicine has become one of the nation’s fastest-growing drug problems. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 15,000 people die every year of overdoses due to prescription painkillers. In 2010, 1 in 20 people in the United States over the age of 11 reported using prescription painkillers for nonmedical reasons in the past year. Moreover, an estimated 70 percent of people who abuse prescription painkillers obtained them from friends or relatives who originally received the medication from a prescription. The problem is of particular concern with respect to young adults and teens.