Jan. 05A new state law aimed at fighting the opioid epidemic by requiring drug take-back programs could provide a boost for Ontario County's Medication Take Back program. The program has collected tons of unwanted and unused drugs since 2010 through collection events and drop boxes throughout the county.
Ontario County Sheriff Kevin Henderson, who was involved at the onset of the program nine years ago, said the new law could offer additional funding for the program through Partnership for Ontario County. The nonprofit partnership co-sponsors the take-back program with the Sheriff's Office.
"This might be an opportunity," Henderson said. "If there is a way, I am sure we will seek the funding."
Starting Sunday, drug companies will be responsible for covering all the costs of picking up leftover drugs, moving those drugs and destroying them. The law will also force chain and mail-order pharmacies to offer more options for customers to get rid of old medicine, including drop boxes and prepaid return envelopes.
Marcy Lambrecht, who works for the partnership that runs the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Ontario County, said the new state law has been in the works for some time. It has been the subject of discussions locally.
The law won't apply to privately owned pharmacies and only to those with multiple locations such as the corporate-run pharmacies. Because of the program in Ontario County, some private pharmacies do have drop boxes, and boxes are found at many spots such as town and village halls and medical facilities. One of the goals of the county program was to ensure there was at least one drop box in each school district of the county and now there are many more, Lambrecht said.
Petrea Rae, coalition coordinator for the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Ontario County, said there are 25 drop boxes across Ontario County "ensuring there is a box in every school district to make returning medication as convenient as possible. We also work with the sheriff's department to support mobile take-backs as another take-back opportunity," she said.
"At this time, all costs for the take-back program including law enforcement coordination of the collection of the medication and disposal of the medication is done by the Sheriff's Office or state troopers. The coalition helps pay for the advertising of drop-off events and drop boxes," Rae said.
Ontario County's Medication Take Back drop-off events are held at various sites twice a year. Lambrecht said they draw a lot of participation because the events offer an easy way for people to safety dispose of medications. It makes it easy for people who wouldn't ordinarily get out, and to properly dispose of the meds, she said.
Ontario County's program accepts any unwanted, unused and expired over-the-counter pet or prescription medication, as well as medication needles and EpiPens. Medication can be dropped off in the original container (be sure to blacken out your name for confidentiality). All medication is collected by the Ontario County Sheriff's Office and is incinerated.
The goal is to stop drugs from ending up in the wrong hands. For people addicted to opioids, the first supply often comes from a friend or family member who has leftover medication. The drug take-back program aims to cut off that source. The program helps prevent addiction as well as accidental poisoning and protects water and soil from contamination.
The new state law, the New York's Drug Take Back Act, applies to both prescription and non-prescription drugs but does not include vitamins. The law that passed the Legislature and was signed by the governor was co-sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Rich Funke, R-Perinton.
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