New York’s “Drug Take Back Act” has been signed into law. Establishing a unified statewide drug take-back program that will reduce medication misuse, and save government and taxpayer money, the bill was sponsored by Senators Kemp Hannon and Tom O’Mara. It will also protect the state’s water supplies by preventing drugs from being improperly disposed of by flushing or other means that result in contamination of water bodies and negatively impact aquatic life.

Senator Hannon, Chair of the Senate’s Health Committee, said, “I’m pleased this important measure, which was originally included in the Senate one-house budget this year, has finally been signed into law. This legislation will take drugs out of the medicine cabinets and will prevent drugs from polluting New York’s waters.”

The Drug Take Back Act will help give manufacturers of pharmaceutical products responsibility for costs of the take-back program, with focal points being public education and awareness, as well as drug collection, transport, and destruction. Under this new law, chain and mail-order pharmacies will be required to provide consumers with collection options, including drop boxes and prepaid mail-back envelopes. The measure will also ensure rural, urban, and other underserved communities have access to ongoing collection services so that all persons have reasonable access to locations to dispose of their drugs and prevent over-saturation in higher populated areas.

The new law also helps the state’s ongoing efforts to reduce drug abuse because one of the most common ways for opioid addictions to start is when individuals have access to leftover prescriptions. By increasing New Yorkers’ opportunities 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. Last year, the Senate led the way in securing a historic $2.5 billion investment to improve and protect water resources, and keeping drugs out of water supplies is another important and necessary step.

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