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brDrug Take-Back Programs Get Addictive Rx Drugs Out of Medicine Cabinets And Homes, Yet Federal Regulations Now Prevent Staten Island Pharmacies From Hosting ThembrbrSchumer Calls On DEA To Change Rules To Allow Pharmacies To Hold Take-Back Programs, and To Provide Funds To Make Buyback Programs More EffectivebrbrSchumer: Drug Buyback Programs Safely Dispose of Dangerous Drugs, Eliminate Easy-Access to Unused Meds Save Livesbrbr

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to expeditiously amend and approve regulations that would finally allow pharmacies and community organizations the opportunity to host community prescription drug takeback events.  Schumer also asked the DEA to establish a "buyback" program so that federal funds can be used to incentivize people to return their prescription drugs, to increase the takeback events' effectiveness. Staten Island is a part of a growing prescription drug abuse epidemic and according to a recent report by the Mayor's Task Force on Prescription Painkiller Abuse, Staten Islanders are more than three times likely to die from an unintentional opioid analgesic overdose compared to residents of any other borough. National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that over 70 percent of people who abused prescription pain relievers got them from friends or relatives, while approximately 5 percent got them from a drug dealer or from the Internet. At present, takeback drug events are infrequent and can be inconvenient, which Schumer said is a missed opportunity to take prescription drugs off the streets and help dispose the medications responsibly.


Although a pending New York State bill would certify participating pharmacies to take back prescription medication, it cannot become a reality until the DEA amends regulations under the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010. Therefore, Schumer urged the DEA to quickly amend these regulations so that the New York State legislation can be fully implemented, and to establish and fund programs that will increase the amount of medication turned over through takebacks, buybacks and other means.


"Prescription drug abuse is a huge issue across Staten Island, from college campuses, to street corners and your neighbor's home and we simply must do more to keep these drugs out of the wrong hands," said Schumer.  "The DEA needs to be working with local pharmacies, governments and law enforcement agencies to get prescription drugs off the street, and takeback and buyback programs are the way to do that.  The DEA must change the regulations so that certified pharmacies can hold takeback events and provide this vital service, and should put more funding behind buybacks to incentivize people to turn over their prescription drugs."


Schumer was joined by pharmacists of Delco Drugs and Specialty Pharmacy, District Attorney Donovan, NYS Senator Lanza, NYC Councilman Ignizio and Assemblyman Michael Cusick.


Only the DEA has the authority to hold community takeback events. According to the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, however, the DEA can amend current regulations to "allow public and private entities to develop a method of collection and disposal of controlled substances", through events like takeback events, mailback programs and collection receptacle locations. It has been over three years since the law's passage, and over six months since the public comment period ended on the potential rule change, yet no new regulations have been announced or implemented. Although the public comment period for this rule ended in December, it has not yet been implemented. The DEA must amend federal regulations before pharmacy led takebacks can move forward. Schumer is urging the DEA take the New York State legislation into consideration when developing any new regulations, and said that the DEA must do everything possible to expedite this process so the private and public sectors can work together in the fight against prescription drug abuse. 


Schumer is also advocating that the DEA establish a new 'buyback' program that would help local pharmacies, government agencies and law enforcement, establish, promote, and finance drug buybacks.  By providing incentives for people to turn their prescription drugs in, and helping localities promote the events and the dangers of keeping leftover prescription drugs in the house, Schumer said that the events would become far more effective.  Schumer said that additional funding could also allow these buybacks to be held more frequently.


Schumer added that prescription drug abuse is already a major concern on Staten Island. According to a September 2013 report by the Mayor's Task Force on Prescription Painkiller Abuse, Staten Island faces high risks with regard to prescription drug abuse. In 2012, Staten Islanders filled prescriptions at higher rates than residents of all the other boroughs. According to the New York City Department of Health, Staten Islanders had the highest rate of opioid analgesic overdose death, with disparities between boroughs increasing rapidly between 2005 and 2011. On Staten Island, the rate jumped 261 percent and was four times as high as that of Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn and was 3.5 times as high as the Bronx rate.


Local detectives in New York have said that many times when homes are broken into thieves go to the medicine box before the jewelry box in order to steal prescription medication. Schumer said that this problem could potentially spread to neighborhoods on Staten Island.


A New York State bill (S.3944B2013) currently awaiting the Governor's signature would certify participating pharmacies so that they could hold takeback events and provide takeback receptacles. Although this bill has passed the New York State legislature, it cannot be fully implemented until the DEA amends federal regulation.


In light of the pending New York State bill, Schumer today urged the DEA to expeditiously amend regulations, giving pharmacies the authority to host takeback drug events. Schumer noted that proper disposal of prescription drugs is important also for environmental reasons because individuals will sometimes dispose of medications by flushing them down the toilet, which can adversely affect local water sources.  DEA agents attest that local takeback efforts have been successful, netting a total of 11,300 pounds of drugs, including over 5,000 pounds at one event last year.  Schumer made the case that more frequent and convenient takeback drug programs would get more and more prescription drugs off the streets.


Schumer has long supported measures to combat prescription drug abuse. Schumer launched a campaign to keep painkillers that contain hydrocodone out of the wrong hands. The Safe Prescribing Act of 2013 will reclassify hydrocodone as a Schedule II controlled substance - which would require a written or electronic prescription that must be signed by the practitioner, among other stricter requirements to authorize the use of this drug