State law requires drug take-back programs start this week

In yet another initiative to combat the ongoing problem with opiates, a new state law will require pharmacies and drug manufacturers to offer drug take-back programs.

The program will allow people to drop off surplus prescription and non-prescription drugs, not including controlled substances, to prevent the drugs from being misused. There will also be additional focus on public education in addition to drug collection, transport and destruction.

The law, which will go into effect Sunday, was passed by both houses of the state Legislature in June and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on July 10.

As of Thursday, Kinney Drugs is the only local chain pharmacy with an ongoing program in place. Outside of chains, a few locally owned and operated pharmacies have programs.

Stephen A. Jennings, chairman of the Alliance for Better Communities, said this law will be a vital pillar in the continuous local fight to reduce drug abuse.

“For people addicted to opioids, the first supply often comes from a friend or family member who has a significant supply of medication left over. The drug take-back program will go a long way to cut off that source,” Jennings said.

The law will also have an environmental benefit, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. If flushed or poured down the drain, medications can end up in rivers and streams, or if thrown in trash cans can be found by animals.

Legislators also argued the new program will help save taxpayer dollars spent on programs often operated by law enforcement agencies and public officials.