Assemblyman Steve Stern Announces Implementation of State-Wide Drug Take Back Law

New initiative brings Stern’s “Shed the Meds” program to chain and mail providers to fight opioid epidemic and protect our environment
January 3, 2019

Assemblyman Steve Stern (D-Huntington) announced that the Drug Take Back Act goes into effect Jan. 6, creating a statewide drug takeback program – paid for by drug manufacturers, not taxpayers.  The program requires participation by all chain and mail-order pharmacies doing business in the state and is part of the Assembly Majority’s continued efforts to fight the opioid epidemic and save lives.

“There are too many families grieving in every Long Island community, trying to make sense of why their loved ones were taken so soon,” said Stern. “The opioid epidemic knows no bounds and will often hold its victims powerless until it’s too late. One of the most important ways we can combat this devastating crisis is to prevent addiction before it even starts.

Opioid overdoses took the lives of more than 42,000 Americans in 2016.  Here in New York, the rate of opioid overdose deaths doubled between 2010 and 2015.  That is why, as Suffolk County Legislator, Stern created the “Shed the Meds” program to facilitate disposal of medication to protect our young people and protect our water from pharmaceutical contamination. The program has been extremely successful and has since been implemented by many other municipalities. 

Assemblyman Stern noted that opioid addiction often begins with the use of prescription painkillers, whether obtained legitimately through a doctor or illegally from someone else’s medicine cabinet, and that the program will help cut off supply. The program will also help ensure that these drugs are not improperly disposed of by flushing down the toilet or throwing them in the trash, which can cause them to seep into the water supply.   

The new law requires all drug manufacturers to implement a takeback program in which both chain and mail-order pharmacies offer on-site collection or prepaid envelopes for New Yorkers to dispose of unused medication. Police precincts also collect unused and expired medications, no questions asked.

“I was proud to support the “Drug Take Back Act,” which builds upon my work in the Suffolk County Legislature, expanding locations for our neighbors to return unused medication and help fight the opioid epidemic,” Assemblyman Stern said.