State Agencies Announce Medication Disposal Opportunities Across the State On National Prescription Drug Take Back Day - Saturday, October 23, 2021

Unused Prescription Drugs Can Be Discarded at Nearly 150 Locations Statewide

Drug Disposal at Participating Locations is Anonymous and Free

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 22, 2021) - The New York State Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation and the Office of Addiction Services and Supports today announced they are again partnering with the Drug Enforcement Administration and local law enforcement to participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, October 23, 2021 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. New Yorkers may dispose of prescribed medications, including controlled substances, along with vaping devices and cartridges at one of the 149 participating locations across the state. Locations can be found using the online collection site locator tool. This service is anonymous and free.

"We are proud to be partnering with other state agencies, the DEA and local law enforcement again to take part in this critical initiative to help prevent diversion, misuse and abuse of medications," State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said. "This is a great opportunity for New Yorkers to rid their medicine cabinets of potentially dangerous, expired, unused and unwanted prescriptions drugs, and I encourage everyone to take this easy step to help keep their families and communities safe."

Saturday's event marks the 22nd time that New York has participated in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. In April, the last time this event was held, Americans turned in 420 tons of prescription drugs at 5,060 collection sites operated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and its state, local and tribal law enforcement partners. Ninety healthcare facilities will also be participating in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day in addition to the law enforcement sites available to the public. These residential health care facilities such as nursing homes will dispose 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.

According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.7 million Americans misused prescription pain relievers, 4.9 million people misused prescription stimulants and 5.9 million people misused prescription tranquilizers or sedatives in 2019. The survey also found that most of the misused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, there are concerns about unused pharmaceuticals getting into the wrong hands. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which has declared this public health threat an epidemic, nearly 841,000 Americans have died from drug overdoses since 1999, more than 70,000 of them in 2019 alone.

OASAS Executive Deputy Commissioner Sean Byrne said, "Participating in National Drug Take Back Day is a great way for the community to partner with their local law enforcement, and federal and state agencies, while also helping toprevent the misuse of prescription drugs.By properly disposing of unwanted, unneeded or expired medications, which couldpotentially become lethal or harmful to children and others,we are collectively making our communities safer for everyone."

Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "In addition to supporting the ongoing fight to end the national opioid crisis, Prescription Drug Take Back Day benefits New York's natural resources. When flushed, unwanted drugs and medications end up in New York's lakes, rivers, and streams, impacting fish and other aquatic wildlife. Today's announcement highlighting disposal opportunities across the state will help households get rid of unwanted drugs safely."

Over the last several months, more than 5,000 prescription deactivation bags have been distributed to communities across New York State through OASAS funded prevention providers. These bags support the state's efforts to reduce availability of prescriptions for non-medical use.

Typical methods for disposing of unused medications, including throwing them in the trash or flushing them down the toilet, pose potential health, safety and environmental hazards.

To further protect New York's water quality and also help address the opioid crisis, DEC launched a statewide pilot pharmaceutical take-back program in 2017 to offer a year-round opportunity for people to dispose of medications that are no longer needed. Nearly 437 retail pharmacies, hospitals, and long-term care facilities are currently participating in this Pilot Pharmaceutical Take Back Program. Locations are spread all across the state and provide New Yorkers with a safe, convenient, and environmentally responsible way to properly dispose of their unwanted medications. To date, the program has collected nearly 126,000 pounds of controlled and non-controlled medications. For a map of medication collection kiosks in New York State, please visit DEC's website.

In March of 2021, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) issued final regulations that require drug manufacturing companies to fund drug take back programs, similar to DEC's pilot program. The New York State Drug Take Back Act (DTB) mandates that manufacturers establish, fund and manage a New York State approved drug take back program(s) for the safe collection and disposal of unused covered drugs. Pharmacies of 10 or more establishments within NYS and non-resident pharmacies that provide covered drugs to NYS residents by mail must implement such programs by providing consumers with a pre- approved method(s) of collection and disposal, free of charge to the consumer and pharmacy. This program will be administered by the drug manufacturers with direct oversight by DOH's Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement. DEC and DOH worked together on drafting the final regulations and will continue this work as the manufacturer-funded program is further developed and implemented. For more information, see:

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