New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recently announced 172 pharmacies, hospitals and long-term care facilities that are participating in the second group of the state’s $2 million Pilot Pharmaceutical Take-Back program.
Local participants include Park Ridge Apothecary, 1561 Long Pond Road, Rochester; Tops Pharmacy No. 418, 3507 Mount Read Blvd., Rochester; Dobbins Drugs, 52 William St., Lyons; and Wolcott Pharmacy, 12042 Main St.
In total, 246 facilities are enrolled in the program that started in 2017.
Second-round locations enrolled in the program will start accepting waste medications in May 2018. Until then, the public is encouraged to use existing medication collection box locations. Visit on.ny.gov/1EMq1Ya for information.
“Installing medication drop boxes in community pharmacies, hospitals and long-term care facilities increases opportunities for New Yorkers to properly and easily dispose of unwanted medications,” said Basil Seggos, DEC commissioner. “The hundreds of pharmacies and facilities participating in New York’s free drug take-back program are protecting their communities and the environment.”
DEC will purchase medication collection boxes and pay for the disposal of waste pharmaceuticals collected by participating facilities for two years. The program’s implementation will help improve water quality, protect public health by removing medications from home medicine cabinets and reduce potential adverse impacts to fish and aquatic organisms.
The statewide program is funded with $2 million from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund. These resources will cover the full cost of purchasing U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration-compliant medication drop boxes, as well as the cost of pick up, transport and destruction of collected waste pharmaceuticals for a two-year period. The governor’s proposed executive budget for 2018-19 includes an additional $1 million to support this pilot program.
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. 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.
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 pilot program is open and accepting applications. Visit on.ny.gov/2lknZgn for information.