[r31] New law to make prescription disposal safer, more convenient (4/28/2011)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Start Date: 4/28/2011 All Day
End Date: 4/28/2011
With prescription drug abuse a persistent problem in Indiana, new legislation recently passed will make it easier for Hoosiers to safely dispose of unneeded prescription drugs so they aren't diverted or misused, Attorney General Greg Zoeller said today. The new law comes as dozens of Indiana locations will participate Saturday in the second annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day where Hoosiers can discard unneeded medications.

At a similar Drug Take Back Day event last September 25, more than four tons of medications were collected across Indiana and safely destroyed by incineration. Under the current statute, a law enforcement officer must be present at a prescription drug disposal site, which takes an officer off his normal patrol duties and limits how often disposal opportunities can be scheduled.

That will change after House Enrolled Act 1121, which passed the Legislature on Monday, becomes law. The legislation revises statutory and regulatory requirements so pharmacies will be able to accept unused prescription drugs from consumers and dispose of them without the need for a monitoring police presence.

"Prescription drug abuse, often through teenagers raiding their parents' medicine cabinets, has become a rampant problem in our state. Parents and grandparents understandably want to discard unneeded drugs; but flushing controlled substances is not recommended since pharmaceutical pollutants can find their way into waterways. The last Drug Take Back event demonstrated pent-up demand for a convenient way to dispose of old drugs. With the new law, pharmacies no longer will need a police officer standing by, so they will be able to accept unused medication more often -- or continuously, if they choose," Zoeller said.

Zoeller thanked the many state legislators who passed House Enrolled Act 1121 that allows pharmacies voluntarily to set up disposal programs. He specifically thanked those legislators who helped steer the new law through the Indiana General Assembly: State Representatives Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City, Randy Frye, R-Greensburg, Scott Reske, D-Pendleton, and Charlie Brown, D-Gary; and State Senators Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, and Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis.

"I served as an Indianapolis firefighter/EMT for more than 20 years, and during my service, I witnessed the problems of having outdated and unused prescription drugs accessible in one's home. We cannot continue to ignore the detrimental effects of unused prescription drugs given the fact that prescription drug abuse is one of the leading forms of drug abuse in the nation," Rep. Frye said. "It was a privilege to work on this legislation as Hoosiers will now have an easy-access outlet to dispose of unwanted and unused prescriptions," Frye said.

"As the former sheriff of Blackford County, I have unfortunately seen the abuse that can take place with prescription drugs and the liability they have in people's homes. The idea of not taking action has come and gone. This legislation is necessary to give pharmacies more control in dealing with discarded prescriptions," Rep. Mahan said.

In some other states, pharmacies already provide disposal bins where consumers can safely discard unneeded prescription pills, tablets and liquids. For pharmacies to offer in-store drug-disposal sites in Indiana without a police presence, however, state statute had to be changed. House Enrolled Act 1121 will allow the Indiana Board of Pharmacy to adopt new rules allowing pharmacies to offer disposal programs supervised by private store security officers rather than local law enforcement officers.

"This Act will allow the Indiana Board of Pharmacy to structure a legal framework for the private sector to safely engage in consumer driven take-back program activity without fear of liability. Those rules will address security, transportation and destruction protocols for these returned prescription drugs, allowing clinics and pharmacies to have safe and effective take back programs that are clinically and environmentally sound," said Lora Williams, president of the Board of Pharmacy.

House Enrolled Act 1121 was approved on final passage 96-1 in the Indiana House of Representatives and 48-0 in the state Senate and was sent to the Governor's desk for his signature.

The legislation sprang from proposals discussed at the Prescription Drug Symposium last December 16. Organized by the Attorney General's Office and Family and Social Services Administration, the symposium focused on the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs, such as controlled substances stolen from home medicine cabinets by teenagers. It was attended by approximately 300 health professionals, law enforcement officials and government regulators.

Since House Enrolled Act 1121 would not take effect until July 1 and requires an additional regulatory step, Zoeller encourages the public to utilize one of the 85 locations statewide for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Medications collected by law enforcement will be safely destroyed through incineration. Locations of Drug Take Back sites in Indiana can be searched at this link:

The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day events are conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Justice Department and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Office of Diversion Control, the Indiana State Police and local police departments and county sheriff's offices.

"DEA is thankful to be partnering with so many outstanding agencies in making our Indiana communities safer," said Dennis Wichern, assistant special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Indiana offices.

NOTE: The list of National Prescription Drug Take Back sites in Indiana is at this link.