‘This Can Help Save Lives’

New Law Follows Hofstein’s Successful Effort In Rockland

New City, NY (July 12, 2018) – Rockland County Legislator Lon Hofstein is praising passage of a new state law that aims to help prevent unused drugs from ending up in the hands of young people and others who abuse them for recreational and illegal purposes.

“The opioid crisis that exists in this country is widespread and this law is a step forward in the fight to prevent such abuse,” Legislator Hofstein said. “We need to get unused medications, including opioids, out of our medicine cabinets and into proper disposal facilities so we can help save lives.”

Hofstein sponsored legislation that was passed unanimously by the Rockland County Legislature last year creating a local drug take-back law to help address the issue of abusive use of unused medications.

Rockland County saw 36 deaths from opioid drug overdoses in 2016, according to the latest statistics available from the state Department of Health. Statewide, excluding New York City, opioid-related deaths rose to 1,879, up from 1,238 in 2015.

The new state law, signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Tuesday, now supersedes the county law. It also aims to help protect the environment by curbing the practice of flushing drugs down the toilet, potentially contaminating waterways and negatively impacting both aquatic life and wildlife.

New York’s new law will provide a uniform statewide program for the collection and disposal of unused medications. It requires drug makers to cover the costs of collecting the drugs at pharmacies and other facilities, as well as the costs for destroying them.

While there are collection events such as National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days, Legislator Hofstein and others have advocated for a system that provides continuous convenient collection locations, such as a local drug store, to get more people to dispose of more unused medications.

Pharmacies with at least 10 outlets, such as Rite Aid, Walgreen’s and CVS, will now be required to accept unused medications for safe disposal. This applies to both prescription and nonprescription medications; it does not apply to vitamins, herbal remedies, sunscreen or other such products.

Drug makers will be required to submit drug take-back plans to the state for approval, and they will have to cover the pharmacies’ take-back costs.

Mail-order prescription companies will be required to provide pre-paid envelopes that can be used by consumers to return unused drugs.

Like Legislator Hofstein’s local law, the new state law includes an emphasis on public education and awareness, including advertising the location of collection sites on a website and the use of signs and other written materials. It also requires an explanation as to how the pharmaceutical companies will evaluate the effectiveness of their outreach efforts.

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