Illinois is set to join seven U.S. states with a new law that requires drug manufacturers to pay for and run a statewide take-back program. The Illinois General Assembly passed HB 1780 on April 7th, with the leadership of the House sponsor, Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, and the Senate sponsor, Senator Laura Fine. The bill is now headed to Governor J.B. Pritzker’s desk; once signed, it will ensure every community in Illinois has free, convenient access to safe drug disposal beginning January 1, 2024. “40 million Americans drank from water sources contaminated by prescription drugs last year,” said Representative Gong-Gershowitz. “It’s time we cut that number down to zero, and Illinois is going to do its part. I urge Governor Pritzker to sign this bill quickly to eliminate a serious danger facing our state.”
“Without a drug take-back program, we risk more people abusing substances that should have been discarded,” Senator Fine added. “This legislation will ensure medications are disposed of safely and securely, which will protect unused medications from negatively impacting people in our community and our environment.”
Unused medications can be dangerous, especially to children, the elderly, and pets. They can lead to drug abuse, misuse, and accidental poisonings. When disposed of down the drain or in the trash, they leak into our waterways and harm wildlife. Now, Illinois residents will be able to take unused drugs back to a pharmacy for safe, environmentally responsible disposal. Prepaid mail-back envelopes will also be available.
Under the leadership of Representative Gong-Gershowitz and Senator Fine, a broad coalition including the Illinois Product Stewardship Council (IL PSC), Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO), the Lake County Board, Lake County Sheriff, Illinois Retail Merchants Association, Illinois Environmental Council (IEC), and the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) worked toward a compromise solution over three years, resulting in broad bipartisan support for HB 1780. “Passing the drug take-back bill required a remarkable collaborative effort over the past several years,” said Walter Willis, Executive Director of SWALCO. “It’s thanks to the support of such a diverse coalition that the bill was able to pass with broad support.”
Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart shared, “We are thrilled that this bill will provide a long-awaited safe and responsible means for prescription drug disposal not only in Lake County, but throughout the entire state. The Lake County Board, alongside our partners at SWALCO, want to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Representative Gong-Gershowitz and Senator Fine for championing this bill as we know it will provide enormous positive impact on public health and the environment for years to come.”
Lake County Legislative Committee Chair John Wasik added, “Implementing a prescription drug take-back program has been on our county’s legislative agenda for years and was one of the primary areas of focus for our Legislative team.”
“As the fourth product stewardship program in Illinois, pharmaceutical companies will join automobile, thermostat and electronics manufacturers in taking responsibility for their end-of-life materials,” said Marta Keane, Will County Recycling Program Specialist and chair of the IL PSC. “With its passage, Illinois taxpayers and the environment clearly benefit from the nation’s product stewardship movement.”
The coalition’s work was built on the foundation laid by PSI, which over the past 15 years has paved the way for the passage of drug take-back laws in the U.S. They developed model drug take-back legislation and led a national effort to change the federal Controlled Substances Act and Drug Enforcement Administration regulations to allow convenient pharmacy collections. Today, PSI works with state and local agencies around the country to share strategies and support take-back policies.
“Throughout the country, drug take-back programs have been shown to have a positive impact on public health and environmental protection,” said Jennifer Walling, Executive Director of IEC. “We are proud to see Illinois take another significant action toward lowering the risk of accidental overdoses and reducing pollution in our pristine waterways by passing this bill.”
Illinois is the eighth state to require manufacturers to fund and manage a drug take-back program, preceded by Maine, Oregon, Massachusetts, Vermont, Washington state, New York, and California. “This new law will be a critical step toward reducing the prescription opioid crisis and will go a long way to protect our water quality,” said Scott Cassel, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of PSI. “The law will remove a substantial financial and management burden from governments and taxpayers, placing the primary responsibility with the drug companies that put these products on the market.”
For more information, visit www.productstewardship.us.