State Agencies Announce Medication Disposal Sites Across New York State on National Prescription Drug Take Back Day - Saturday, October 27, 2018

Unused, Expired and Unwanted Prescription Drugs Can Be Discarded at More Than 250 Locations Statewide

Drug Disposal at Participating Locations is Free and Anonymous

231 Collection Boxes Distributed Across State Under DEC's Pharmaceutical Take-Back Program

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 26, 2018) - The New York State Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation and Offices of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services and Aging today announced they are partnering with the Drug Enforcement Administration and local law enforcement to participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, October 27, 2018 from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. New Yorkers can prevent addiction before it can start by disposing of their medications at one of 255 participating locations across the state, which can be found online using the online collection site locator tool.

“Allowing unnecessary or expired medications to languish in your medicine cabinet can present a danger to you and your loved ones,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day provides the perfect opportunity to dispose of medications that are no longer needed and may do more harm than good. By participating in this event, New Yorkers may have the opportunity to save lives.”

Saturday's event marks the 16th time in eight years that New York has participated in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Last April, Americans turned in 474.5 tons of prescription drugs at 5,842 sites operated by the DEA and 4,683 of its state, local and tribal law enforcement partners. In the 15 previous national Take Back events, the DEA and its partners have taken in nearly 5,000 tons of pills. The DEA's New York Division alone collected approximately 20 tons of discarded prescription drugs from designated collection sites last April.

Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said, “Safe, responsible disposal of medications is an important action that everyone can take to keep themselves out of harm’s way. With the many takeback events throughout the state, New Yorkers are able to take an active role in ensuring these unused drugs are kept away from people who should not have them. These events are a crucial way that we can fight this public health crisis, and help prevent substance use disorders.”

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Flushed medications have been found in New York lakes, rivers and streams and can negatively affect our state’s waterways, fish and other aquatic wildlife. With support from the State’s Environmental Protection Fund, DEC is working with hundreds of pharmacies, hospitals and long-term care facilities through our Pharmaceutical Take Back Program to install medication collection boxes across the State. DEC encourages all New Yorkers to help protect and improve water quality and reduce harmful impacts to fish and aquatic organisms by taking part in the upcoming drug takeback day and to be mindful every day of proper disposal of unused, unwanted, or expired pharmaceuticals.”

New York State Office for the Aging Acting Director Greg Olsen said, “It's not uncommon for some older adults to be prescribed 14 or more medications a year—and over time, changing medical conditions can mean different medications. Having expired or unneeded prescription drugs can lead to potentially dangerous situations from incorrect dosages, taking expired pills that are no longer effective, or having unused medications find their way into the wrong hands. National Prescription Drug Take Back Day helps older New Yorkers and caregivers dispose of unused medications safely to avoid accidental misuse or abuse.”

In addition to the law enforcement sites available to the public, 448 healthcare facilities across the state will also be participating in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. The facilities, including institutional settings, such as long-term care facilities and nursing homes, will be disposing of their own unused and expired medications to further reduce the potential of diversion of dangerous controlled substances.

The DEA can only accept pills or patches, not liquids, needles or sharps. The service is free and anonymous with no questions asked. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.2 million Americans abused controlled prescription drugs. The number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs is also alarmingly high. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, there are concerns about unused pharmaceuticals getting into the wrong hands. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one U.S. citizen dies every 16 minutes from a drug overdose and has declared this public health threat an epidemic. The usual methods for disposing of unused medicines - throwing them in the trash or flushing them down the toilet - pose potential health, safety and environmental hazards.

With technological advances in analytical techniques, it is now possible to detect low levels of drugs in surface water and groundwater. Some drugs pass largely unaltered through wastewater treatment plants and enter rivers and other waterways. Flushed medications have been found in New York lakes, rivers and streams and can negatively affect the waterways. A national study conducted in 1999 and 2000 by the U.S. Geological Survey found low levels of drugs such as antibiotics, hormones, contraceptives and steroids in 80 percent of rivers and streams tested. Medications adversely affect fish and other aquatic wildlife and increase the development of drug-resistant bacteria.

The State Department of Environmental Conservation announced that, under New York's $2 million pilot Pharmaceutical Take-Back Program, 231 collection boxes have been distributed to participating retail pharmacies, hospitals and long-term care facilities across the state. The pilot program to safely collect unused and expired waste medication was launched by DEC in December 2017, and a total of 246 facilities have agreed to participate. Since May 2018, DEC has collected over two tons of unused, unwanted, or expired medications through the pilot program and New Yorkers are encouraged to use the medication collection box locations, which can be found by visiting the DEC website.

The pilot is funded with $2 million from the state's Environmental Protection Fund, which covers the full cost of purchasing U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration-compliant medication drop boxes, as well as the cost of up to 50 inner liners, pick up, transport and destruction of collected waste pharmaceuticals for a period of two years. At the end of the pilot program participants are required to continue the program, at their own expense, for six additional months. As proposed by Governor Cuomo, the Enacted Budget for 2018-19 includes an additional $1 million to support the expansion of this pilot program. DEC plans to install another 230 medication collection boxes across the state under the second phase of the pilot program, which will begin in February of 2019.

New Yorkers struggling with an addiction, or whose loved ones are struggling, can find help and hope by calling the state’s toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day-a-week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (Short Code 467369).

For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, go to the DEA Diversion website.