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Health Facilities to Pilot State's 'Take Back' Program
New York Ag Connection - 01/10/2018

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the first group of participants in the State's $2 million Pilot Pharmaceutical Take-Back Program. Participants include 80 retail pharmacies, hospitals, and long-term care facilities across the state.

The Pilot Pharmaceutical Take Back Program will officially begin accepting waste medications in April 2018, when medication collection boxes are delivered to and installed by participating pharmacies. Until then, the public is encouraged to use existing medication collection box locations, which can be found by visiting the DEC website and clicking on NYS Medication Drop Box Locations link.

"By placing medication drop boxes in community pharmacies, hospitals and long-term care facilities, we are increasing opportunities for New Yorkers to properly and easily dispose of unwanted medications," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Participants in New York's free drug take-back program are protecting their communities and the environment."

Under the drug take-back program, DEC will purchase medication collection boxes and pay for the disposal of waste pharmaceuticals collected by participating facilities for two years. Implementation of this pilot program 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 Pilot Pharmaceutical Take-Back Program is funded through the Environmental Protection Fund. Resources from the fund will be used to 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.

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 and can negatively affect the waterways. 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 Center for Disease Control 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 is accepting applications. Retail pharmacies, hospitals, and long-term care facilities are encouraged to enroll online at the Pilot Pharmaceutical Take-Back Program web page on DEC's website or at

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