Law makes it easier to dispose of leftover meds


Beginning in January, disposing of unwanted or leftover prescription medication from your medicine cabinet will be easier and more convenient.

Due to a recently enacted law, residents will be able to return unwanted medication to any of the large chain pharmacies including CVS, Walgreens and Riteaid.

Advocates say the bill will protect the water supply by giving people an alternative to flushing the medication, and will keep the potentially dangerous drugs from winding up in the wrong hands.

Studies show that between 60 and 70 percent of teenagers who abuse prescription drugs get them from their parents’ medicine cabinets. Excess medications sitting in cabinets are ripe for abuse, and one of the most common ways people become addicted and addicts feed their habits, experts say.

Prior to this, residents had to wait for periodic “drug take back events” in their areas or bring unused medication to their local police precinct.

The bill, co-sponsored by State Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City), provides for a unified, statewide drug take back program “that will protect lives and the environment.”

An aide to Hannon, who is Chair of the State Senate Standing Committee on Health, said drug manufacturers have to submit a plan to the New York State Department of Health to hire a third party that would take back any unwanted or leftover prescription drugs and properly dispose of them, at their cost.

The chain pharmacies would have the choice of having a kiosk installed at their location or offering prepaid mail-back envelopes. Small, private pharmacies can opt into the program on a voluntary basis.

Covanta Environmental Solutions won the contract with the NYS Department of Conservation to incinerate the returned prescription drugs.

“Requiring drug take back will save government and taxpayer’s money, reduce misuse, and protect our water supplies,” Hannon stated in a release.

The newly enacted law will provide “significantly more opportunities to safely dispose of unused medications by requiring all chain pharmacies to offer collection, thus reducing medication misuse and preventing drugs from being improperly disposed of into the environment. The program holds pharmaceutical companies responsible for the cost of proper drug disposal, thereby saving government and taxpayer’s money.”

Hannon announced the passage of the Drug Take Back Act at a news conference on July 20 at CVS on Hempstead Turnpike in East Meadow, joined by Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick J. Ryder and representatives from CVS Health, Covanta and Citizens Campaign for the Environment. Hannon’s district includes Levittown, Bethpage and East Meadow.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, every 16 minutes one U.S. citizen dies from a drug overdose.

Ryder said the law is a “common sense approach” to protecting children “who may come in contact with these dangerous and lethal medications. Whether it be accidental or voluntary exposure, all of us have to work together to ensure that every last pill that is not being used is accounted for and not lying around in a medicine cabinet or inappropriately discarded with the possibility of inflicting harm to any one of us. We have seen all too often how these medications come into the wrong hands and leave us with devastating results.”

Ed Campbell, Region Director of CVS Health, stated, “CVS Health is dedicated to helping the communities we serve address and prevent opioid abuse, which is why we’ve expanded access to safe medication disposal to 50 CVS Pharmacy locations across New York State and 750 locations across the U.S. Proper disposal of drugs will also protect the state’s water supplies. Improper disposal by means of flushing not only results in contamination of water bodies but also negatively impacts aquatic life.

This legislation will take effect January 6, 2019.