Final Passage Given to the "Drug Take Back Act" to Prevent Unused Drugs From Feeding Addictions and Harming the Environment

June 21, 2018

Bill Creating a New Statewide Pharmaceutical Take-Back Program Heads to the Governor’s Desk

The New York State Senate announced final passage to a bill enacting the “Drug Take Back Act” that helps prevent opioids and other unused prescriptions from being abused and protects water supplies from improper drug disposal. The measure (S9100), sponsored by Senator Kemp Hannon (R, Nassau) and Senator Tom O’Mara (R-C-I, Big Flats), creates a statewide pharmaceutical take-back program and holds pharmaceutical companies accountable for proper drug disposal. 

“I'm pleased we were finally able to gain passage of this important measure, which was originally included in the Senate one-house budget this year,” said Senator Hannon, Senate Health Committee Chair. “This legislation takes drugs out the waters and out of medicine cabinets, thereby improving both the environmental health and physical health of New York citizens.”

Senator O’Mara, Chair of the Senate’s Environmental Conservation Committee, said, “It's incredibly important to do anything and everything we can to complement and support the efforts of local law enforcement and other community leaders to combat prescription drug abuse. This proposal to greatly expand the number of permanent, locally based drop-off locations would be a very positive, cost-effective addition to the state's ongoing, overall strategy to protect our communities and local environments.”

The Drug Take Back Act holds pharmaceutical manufacturers responsible for all costs of the take-back program, ranging from public education and awareness to drug collection, transport, and destruction. Chain pharmacies and mail-order pharmacies will be required to provide consumers with collection options including drop boxes and prepaid mail-back envelopes. 

The measure also ensures communities in rural and underserved areas as well as cities have access to ongoing collection services so that all persons have reasonable access to locations to dispose of their drugs. 

Opioid addictions often start or are fueled when individuals access leftover prescriptions found at home in medicine cabinets. By giving New Yorkers more opportunities to find ways to properly dispose of unused drugs, the potential for abuse and addiction is decreased. 

In addition, proper disposal helps protect the state’s water supplies because fewer people would improperly dispose of drugs by flushing them down a toilet or using other means that result in water contamination and negative impacts to aquatic life. Last year, New York made a historic $2.5 billion investment in improving and protecting water resources, and keeping drugs out of water supplies is another important and necessary step. The Drug Take Back Act was also included in the Senate’s one-house budget proposal passed earlier this year.

While New York has actively worked over the years to promote unused medication collection and has funded Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) approved boxes around the state, the Drug Take Back Act will build upon these efforts making disposal option more accessible and hold taxpayers harmless. The number of unused drugs is staggering. Over 474.5 tons of unused medication were collected at sites around the country during the 15th National Take Back Day on April 28, according to the DEA. New York’s new Drug Take Back Act will mean people can easily dispose of unused medications at most pharmacies any day of the year, drastically increasing the number of drugs collected and kept out of medicine cabinets and our waterways. 

The bill has already passed the Assembly and will be sent to the Governor for review. 

In addition to the Senate’s leadership on this significant legislation, many members hold “Shed-the-Meds” take-back events throughout the year. Several coming up include:

Senator Terrence Murphy:
June 28: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Mt. Pleasant Town Hall, 1 Town Hall Plaza, Valhalla 

Senator Chris Jacobs:
July 14: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Grand Island Town Hall, 2255 Baseline Road, Grand Island

Senator Carl Marcellino:
July 183 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Glenwood Fire Department, Station #2, 196 Glen Head RoadGlen Head
July 25: 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at East Norwich Fire Department, 900 Oyster Bay RoadEast Norwich 
August 11: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at South Huntington Public Library, 145 Pidgeon Hill RoadHuntington Station

Senator Phil Boyle:
July 21: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Holbrook Fire Department, 355 Patchogue-Holbrook Rd., Holtsville
July 28: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Bay Shore Fifth Avenue School, 217 Fifth Avenue, Bay Shore

Senators Involved