A lack of safe disposal options contributes to the national drug abuse epidemic that is now the leading cause of injury death in the U.S., ahead of car accidents. More than 2,000 people in New York State die annually from opioid overdose, most commonly from prescription pain relievers. Moreover, when flushed or thrown away, many pharmaceuticals end up in waterways, causing harm to the ecosystem and potentially affecting sources of drinking water.

NY Drug Take-Back Act

In 2018, NYPSC helped pass the NY Drug Take-Back Act, in strategic collaboration with the NYS Association of Counties and Citizens Campaign for the Environment, by rallying local and regional government support for the bill, and providing recommendations to sponsors Senator Hannon and Assemblywoman Gunther that improved the bill. The new law will ensure safe, convenient access to drug take-back programs that are financed and managed by manufacturers.

Regulations for Drug Take-Back Law

The 2018 NY Drug Take-Back Act will provide safe, convenient access to drug take-back programs financed and managed by manufacturers–but only if the regulations are written to ensure the law is implemented as intended.

In November 2019, NYPSC and many other New York stakeholders submitted joint recommendations to help ensure that the regulations fulfill the intent of the New York State Drug Take Back Act to provide free, convenient access to safe drug disposal for all New Yorkers. These recommendations include:

  • Expedite the timeline for program implementation
  • Allow all authorized collectors to participate in the program at the manufacturer’s expense.
  • Pharmacies enrolled in the DEC Pilot Project should be rolled into the new program, unless they decline the opportunity.
  • Include a statewide convenience standard.
  • Require collection receptacles (aka “kiosks” or “drop boxes”) at pharmacies and other authorized collectors participating in the program.
  • Maximize the effectiveness of mail back (as a supplement to collection receptacles).
  • Make manufacturers pay the full cost of the program.
  • Ensure transparency in the rulemaking process.
  • Expedite the timeline for program implementation
Faulty Drug Take-Back Bill Defeated!

On December 18th, 2017, Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed S.06750/A.387-B, a faulty drug take-back bill which would have let pharmaceutical producers avoid responsibility for the recovery of unwanted drugs that put New York residents’ lives at risk, and preempted local governments from enacting effective pharmaceutical producer responsibility laws. The veto was a win for NYPSC which, in strategic collaboration with Citizens Campaign for the Environment and dozens of other groups across the state, urged the Governor to veto this bill and, instead, propose an effective program funded by pharmaceutical manufacturers.

When Governor Cuomo vetoed the flawed bill, he instructed the NYS DEC to develop recommendations for a statewide manufacturer-funded drug take-back program by May 15. NYPSC attended all three of NYS DEC’s roundtable meetings to provide recommendations about best practices and program implementation, and to answer technical questions.

Drug Take-Back Pilot in NY Hospitals

NYPSC and the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) received a solid waste management grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Office to run a six-month drug take-back pilot program and public education campaign with five hospitals serving rural New York State.

This pilot program will culminate in summer of 2018 with 1) a national webinar to share results and lessons learned and 2) an online Toolkit for medical professionals complete with safe drug disposal information and tools they can use to educate their patients to properly remove leftover drugs from their homes. NYPSC will also help hospitals that wish to continue collecting drugs transition into NYS DEC’s program or take over their own program.