Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today reminded New Yorkers that unused or expired medications can present a serious threat to public health and safety, as well as the environment, and urged them to participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, Saturday, April 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event provides an opportunity for people to safely dispose of unwanted or unused prescription drugs at local community drop-off sites.
"New York has taken strong steps to combat prescription drug abuse, but we also need families and individuals to recognize the potential danger of keeping expired or unused medications in the home where they are susceptible to misuse and are easily accessible to children," Governor Cuomo said. "People should closely track their prescription medications and safely dispose of any drugs that are no longer needed or have passed their expiration date. I urge all New Yorkers to check their medicine cabinets and visit one of the many drug take back sites this Saturday to discard their unused medications and eliminate the potential dangers associated with these drugs."
National Drug Take Back Day is sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Approximately 250 drop-off sites in communities across New York State will be open to accept prescription drugs for disposal. To locate designated drop-off sites across the state, go to http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/.
Additionally, in 2012, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) established a permanent medication drop box program through state, county and local law enforcement agencies. The program expanded options available for households to safely dispose of expired or unwanted medications. DOH drop box locations can be viewed here: http://www.health.ny.gov/professionals/narcotic/medication_drop_boxes/
"While prescription drugs and other medications, including over-the-counter medicine, can be beneficial when taken properly, they also pose potential health risks, including misuse and abuse," said State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H. "It is crucial that medicine is properly stored and disposed of and kept out of sight and reach of children at all times."
In August, Governor Cuomo announced the placement of drop boxes at nine New York State Police Troop Headquarters. The boxes, which are available year around, are secure, open to the public and allow New Yorkers across the state to anonymously dispose of unused prescription medications and controlled substances. The drop box locations can be found at: http://www.governor.ny.gov/press/08272012-place-drop-boxes-accross-state....
New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico said, "The abuse of prescription medications is a growing concern among members of the New York State Police. State Police continue to partner with numerous law enforcement agencies as part of a tremendous enforcement effort to keep these medications from getting into the wrong hands. Our participation in the Medication Drop Box Program is one way to allow the public to safely and anonymously dispose of these medications to help stem the abuse of prescription drugs."
New York's new I-STOP initiative, which was signed into law last year by Governor Cuomo and takes effect in August, will enable New York State to more effectively track the movement of controlled substances by requiring pharmacies to report prescription information to New York's prescription monitoring program registry ("PMP") in "real time." I-STOP also requires that practitioners review PMP data to review a patient's controlled substance history before prescribing. Using this information will thwart "doctor-shopping" as well as help inform prescribers when they exercise their clinical judgment. Additionally, I-STOP will eliminate the ability to automatically prescribe refills for the potent opioid hydrocodone, and beginning in March 2015, will require that all prescriptions be electronically transmitted in a secure, encrypted fashion. Finally, the law seeks to protect legitimate patients' access to these medications through the establishment of a workgroup of stakeholders. This workgroup will also help guide the development of medical education courses and public awareness measures regarding pain management and the appropriate use of prescription drugs.
Federal data shows that for 11 straight years, drug overdose deaths have increased. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2010, over 38,000 people died from a drug overdose in the United States. Most of the medicines were prescription drugs.
"Young people are at especially high risk of prescription drug abuse. We know that they usually get access to prescription medications at home from their medicine cabinet," said Commissioner Arlene González Sánchez of the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. "We urge all New Yorkers to help prevent prescription drug abuse by properly disposing of their medications before they lead to addiction or death."
Individuals can get help by calling the OASAS toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day a week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY. The HOPEline is staffed by trained clinicians who are ready to answer questions, help refer individuals to treatment services and provide other vital resources to facilitate recovery. All calls are anonymous and confidential.
In addition to health risks, the improper disposal of prescription drugs can cause environmental contamination. The DEA's take-back event, along with the DOH safe disposal program, allows for households to dispose of unwanted and expired medications in an environmentally-conscious fashion. Low levels of drugs have been found in the waters of New York State and may have an adverse effect on aquatic life. For more than five years, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has worked to reduce the release of unused drugs into its waters through the "Don't Flush Your Drugs" campaign. This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue and helps to protect New York's waters. For more information on drugs in New York waters and how the DEC is addressing this issue, please visit the DEC website at www.dontflushyourdrugs.net.
"When unused medication is improperly disposed of, it can harm our state's waters and the organisms living in the water," said DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens. "I urge New Yorkers to take any unwanted medication to one of the many collection sites. Their small act will add up across the state and help us improve New York's wonderful water resources."
Last September, Americans turned in 244 tons of prescription drugs at more than 5,200 take back disposal sites across the country.