New Yorkers Urged to Participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, October 26

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 25, 2013) – Across the U.S., in homes, apartments and even offices there's a not-so-hidden threat to public health and safety as well as the environment: the medicine cabinet, filled with prescription drugs that have expired or no longer in use. To help ensure the safe disposal of medications, the State Department of Health (DOH), Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), New York State Police (NYSP), and State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) are encouraging New Yorkers to participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, Saturday, October 26 from 10am to 2pm. The event, sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.

Approximately 250 drop-off sites in communities across New York State will be open to accept prescription drugs for disposal. The following link provides location information for designated drop-off sites across the state:

"New York's new I-STOP initiative, signed into law last year by Governor Cuomo, took effect in August. It enables 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 in 'real time'", said State Health Commissioner, Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H. "The use of this information will improve health outcomes at both the patient and population level."

I-STOP requires that practitioners use the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) data to review a patient's controlled substance history before prescribing. Since I-STOP took effect, more than 45,000 practitioners have utilized the PMP to perform approximately 2.4 million searches. Using this information will thwart "doctor-shopping" as well as help inform prescriber's when they exercise their clinical judgment. Additionally, I-STOP eliminated the ability to automatically prescribe refills for the potent opioid hydrocodone. Beginning in March 2015, all prescriptions will be electronically transmitted in a secure, encrypted fashion, further limiting forgeries and counterfeit prescriptions. Finally, the law seeks to protect legitimate patients' access to these medications through the establishment of a workgroup of stakeholders. This workgroup provided recommendations to DOH on the need for continuing education in the area of pain management. The workgroup also developed public awareness materials, regarding the appropriate use of prescription drugs, available on the DOH website:

In 2012, 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:

Additionally, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced in 2012the 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:

New York State Police Superintendent, Joseph D'Amico said, "Prescription drug abuse is plaguing this country and it continues to be a growing concern for the New York State Police. State police work closely with our partners in law enforcement every day to identify and put an end to this abuse. The Medication Drop Box Program is another tool that can help keep prescription drugs from getting into the wrong hands. The program gives the public an option to safely dispose of these medications."

Federal data shows that for 11 straight years, drug overdose deaths have increased. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2010, more than 38,000 people died from a drug overdose in the United States. Most of the medicines were prescription drugs.

Commissioner Arlene González Sánchez of the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services said, "National Prescription Drug Take Back Day will help reduce the non-medical use of opioids, depressants and stimulants that have become the drug abuse choice for too many young people ages 12 to 25. To protect our children and help stem this growing public health crisis, OASAS and DOH have created a series of SAFEMEDNY public awareness brochures in English and Spanish that are free and available to anyone to order and distribute."

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 the 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 NYSDEC has been working 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.

DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens said: "Safe disposal of medications is a simple way to help protect our environment. We strongly encourage people to bring unused or expired medications to a designated drop box so that these drugs do not end up in state waterways where they could potential contaminate the water and impair fish and wildlife." For more information on drugs in New York waters and how the DEC is addressing this issue please visit the DEC website at

During the DEA's last Prescription Drug Take Back Day in April, 371 tons of prescription medications were collected from members of the public at more than 5,800 take back disposal sites across the country.