A new statewide drug take-back program went into effect on Sunday, requiring chain and mail-order pharmacies to offer on-site collection or prepaid envelopes for New Yorkers to dispose of their unused medication. 

Supported by Brooklyn Assemblymembers Walter T. Mosley and Latrice Walker, “The Drug Take Back Act” aims to combat the opioid epidemic and other medication misuses.

Photo credit: Assemblymember Latrice Walker

“The opioid epidemic has shown us that addiction knows no bounds and will often hold its victims powerless until it’s too late,” said Walker. “One of the most important ways we can combat this devastating crisis is to stop addiction before it even starts, and that’s what this drug take-back program will help do.”

More than 42,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2016. In New York State, the rate of opioid-related deaths doubled between 2010 and 2015, officials said.

Opioid addiction often begins with the use of prescription painkillers, whether obtained legitimately through a doctor or illegally from someone else’s medicine cabinet. The new program aims to cut off supply and to ensure that the drugs are not improperly disposed of by flushing down the toilet, which can cause them to seep into the water supply.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers will be responsible for all of the costs of the initiative including public education and awareness, as well as the collection, transport and proper disposal of unwanted drugs.  

The 2018-19 state budget allocated nearly $250 million toward addressing the heroin and opioid crisis, through increased funding for educational and awareness campaigns, prevention, treatment and recovery programs and residential service opportunities, efforts that need to be continued also by the newly-constituted state assembly, Walker said.

“With a new legislative session underway, we must continue to do everything we can to prevent addiction, increase access to treatment and ensure those suffering are not forgotten or ignored,” said Walker.

New York is the second state after Washington to adopt an industry-funded drug take-back program.

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Andrea Leonhardt

“Made in Germany,” Andrea Leonhardt is the managing editor for BK Reader. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in American studies and education, and a master’s...

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