Rockland County, NY Set to Start First Local Drug Take-Back Program on the East Coast

Newly passed ordinance requires manufacturers to finance and manage safe disposal program for leftover medications

Rockland County, NY – Today, Rockland County, New York became the first county on the U.S. East Coast to safely dispose of unwanted medications in a program funded and managed by drug companies. The ordinance will provide over 300,000 residents with convenient access to safe drug disposal. The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) provided technical advice to Rockland County officials and legislators to craft the program.

Over $1 billion in leftover drugs are thrown in the trash, flushed, or consigned to medicine cabinets each year. Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the U.S., and nearly 70 percent of people who begin using prescription drugs non-medically get them from a family member or friend, often from medicine cabinets. Drugs left in the home also put seniors, children, and pets at risk for accidental poisoning. When flushed or placed in the trash, over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs can contaminate our drinking water and harm aquatic species.

“By providing safe drug take-back locations to our residents, this law has the potential to curb drug abuse and reduce water quality impacts in Rockland County,” said Legislator Lon Hofstein, who introduced this bill in the County Legislature. “Convenient collection sites are key to a successful program, and we look forward to working with local pharmacies and the pharmaceutical industry to bring this program to fruition.”

With this ordinance, Rockland County joins 13 counties, two cities, and two states that require pharmaceutical manufacturers to fund and manage drug take-back programs. Rockland’s law is unique in that it requires pharmacies to participate as collection locations, but only those chains with three or more U.S. stores. This provision will significantly increase the number of pharmacy collection locations in the County and provide greater convenience to residents.

The law marks a trend in New York: multiple counties have shown interest in passing similar legislation, including Erie County, which recently introduced a bill for which PSI submitted supporting testimony. At the state level, PSI and the New York Product Stewardship Council (NYPSC) are currently working with legislators to strengthen an existing statewide drug take-back bill.

“The passage of this ordinance is a vital step forward for New York State in effectively addressing the impacts of leftover drugs on our communities,” said Andrew Radin, chair of NYPSC. “We hope this ordinance propels our state legislators to pass a law to ensure all residents have access to convenient, safe drug disposal options, and that it paves the way for other municipalities and states around the nation to pursue similar legislation.”

“We applaud Rockland County for recognizing that drug companies are responsible for safely managing leftover medicine and that drug take-back is a key element in reducing drug abuse and water quality impacts,” said Scott Cassel, chief executive officer of PSI, which has promoted drug take-back nationwide for the past decade. “This law should also save money for Rockland County governments, which traditionally bear the burden of paying for proper disposal.”

Click here to learn more about drug take-back.

Laura Incalcaterra,
Rockland County,,

Andrew Radin,
NY Product Stewardship Council (NYPSC),,

Scott Cassel,
Product Stewardship Institute (PSI),,