A.G. Schneiderman Launches New Website To Help New Yorkers Safely Dispose Of Unused Opioids In Advance Of Tomorrow's National Drug Takeback Day

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 27, 2018

Attorney General’s Press Office / 212-416-8060
nyag.pressoffice@ag.ny.gov
Twitter: @AGSchneiderman

A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE TO HELP NEW YORKERS SAFELY DISPOSE OF UNUSED OPIOIDS IN ADVANCE OF TOMORROW’S NATIONAL DRUG TAKEBACK DAY 

ClearYourCabinet . Com Gives New Yorkers New Tools to Search for Nearest Drug Disposal Sites and Sign Up For Text and Email Reminders

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Tomorrow, Saturday, April 28 from 10AM to 2PM; There Will Be Two Dozen Disposal Sites in Buffalo Area Alone 

AG Schneiderman Also Marks One Year Anniversary of SURGE Initiative, Which Has Already Taken Down Nine Major Drug Trafficking Rings Across Upstate & Suburban NY  Part of the AG’s Multi-Levered Approach to Tackling the Opioid Epidemic

BUFFALO – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the launch of ClearYourCabinet . com, a new statewide initiative and website dedicated to helping New Yorkers safely dispose of prescription drugs, ahead of tomorrow’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. As part of Attorney General Schneiderman’s multi-levered approach to tackling the opioid epidemic, the initiative is aimed at helping New Yorkers take one of the simplest steps to prevent addiction by safely disposing of their unused drugs at drop-off sites around New York – including at two dozen sites around Buffalo. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, four out of five new heroin users start out by misusing prescription drugs; and according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. 

“Getting unused prescription drugs out of your home can stop an addiction before it starts,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “I am asking every New Yorker to check out their medicine cabinet, identify any unused prescription drugs, and then visit clearyourcabinet . com to find out where you can safely dispose of them this Saturday. These simple steps can help prevent addiction and save lives.”

Building on national efforts to encourage Americans to bring unused prescription and over-the-counter drugs to designated sites for safe disposal, Clear Your Cabinet gives New Yorkers new tools to find their nearest drop-off locations and request email or text message reminders to go and dispose of their unused medication. The next National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is this Saturday, April 28th, 2018 from 10:00AM to 2:00PM.

Attorney General Schneiderman's Clear Your Cabinet initiative was launched through a collaboration with volunteers from some of New York's leading tech startups after a hackathon focused on the opioid crisis and hosted by the Attorney General's office in March 2018. In particular, the Attorney General would like to thank the organizers of Progressive Hacknight and Civic Hall for their assistance in this project.

In coordination with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, law enforcement agencies, national and community pharmacies, non-profits, and other institutions across New York will be hosting safe drop-off sites for New Yorkers to bring unused medication this Saturday, April 28th from 10:00AM to 2:00PM. Many of these sites will also collect unused medication year-round. To find a location near you, go to  ClearYourCabinet . com.

Disposal of unused prescriptions and over-the-counter medication at these locations is no questions asked and free. New Yorkers cannot bring illegal drugs or needles and sharps (click here for more information on the disposal of needles/sharps). As a last resort, for communities without a safe disposal site nearby, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recommends mixing medications (do not crush tablets or capsules) with water and then adding salt, ashes, dirt, cat litter, coffee grounds, or another undesirable substance, to avoid accidental or intentional misuse of drugs. To prevent unintentional consumption by scavenging humans, pets, or wildlife, do not conceal discarded drugs in food. Their full guidance is available here.

During the last National Prescription Drug Take Back Day in October 2017, more than 450 tons of unused medication were collected across the country. Over 42,000 pounds of unused medication were collected in New York State alone; that’s the same weight as seven heavy-duty pick up trucks. By comparison, the largest criminal drug bust in the history of the New York Attorney General's office took approximately 70 pounds of heroin and fentanyl off the street.

In addition to advancing efforts for the disposal of unused opioids, Attorney General Schneiderman’s multi-levered strategy to tackle New York’s evolving opioid epidemic includes:

    • Bringing New York’s most effective law enforcement resources together in the ongoing SURGE Initiative to root out violent drug trafficking in rural communities and upstate New York. Since launching one year ago today, SURGE has taken down nine major drug trafficking rings across New York – resulting in 302 traffickers taken off the streets.
    • Obtaining settlements with major national and global health insurers including Cigna and Anthem,which insure over 4 million New Yorkers, to remove barriers to life-saving treatment for opioid use disorder. The agreements put an end to the insurers’ policy of requiring prior authorization for medication-assisted treatment (“MAT”), which can lead to significant delays for patients seeking relief from addiction.
    • Creating the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act (“I-STOP”), a series of enhancements to New York’s prescription drug monitoring program that provide doctors with patient’s up-to-date controlled substance prescription history and establishing a safe disposal program providing a place for New Yorkers to get rid of expired and unneeded drugs—thus reducing the likelihood of stolen and forged prescriptions being used to obtain controlled substances from pharmacies. I-STOP reduced “doctor shopping,” a practice in which an individual attempts to obtain the same or similar prescriptions from multiple physicians, by 90% since 2014.
    • Launching the Community Overdose Prevention (“COP”) program, a life-saving initiative that enabled state and local law enforcement officers in the state of New York to carry naloxone, the extremely effective heroin antidote that can immediately reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Since the program’s implementation in April 2014, more than 100 overdoses were reversed using kits provided by the COP program, which distributed over 27,000 kits across the state.
    • Obtaining an agreement with Amphastar Pharmaceuticalsto cut and cap the price of naloxone for all agencies in New York State, reducing the price of naloxone by nearly 20 percent.
    • Enforcing Mental Health Parity Laws to reach agreements with six health insurance companies, requiring them to implement sweeping reforms in their administration of behavioral health benefits, in particular relating to medical management practices, coverage of residential treatment for substance abuse, and co-pays for outpatient treatment, and to submit regular compliance reports. The agreements ultimately provided millions of dollars in penalties and over $2 million in restitution for members whose claims were improperly denied.
    • Successfully prosecuting more than ten licensed prescribers including operators of “pill mills” and other unlawful practices for crimes related to improper opioid prescriptions.
    • Urging health insurance companies to review their coverage and payment policies that contribute to the opioid epidemic, as well as sending letters to the country’s three largest pharmacy benefit managers requesting documents, data, and other information regarding how they are addressing the opioid crisis.

“We are dealing with a deadly epidemic in Western New York that is directly linked to prescription drugs,” said Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn. “One of the ways we can combat this growing problem is through prevention. By properly disposing of prescription medicine, you stop those pills from getting into the wrong hands – and hopefully stop someone else from falling victim to opioid addiction.”

“As we continue to fight the opioid crisis that is devastating families across our state and nation, we must also continue to take steps to prevent these drugs from falling into the wrong hands in the first place,” said Senator Tim Kennedy. “I encourage Western New Yorkers to participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day tomorrow by bringing outdated or unused prescription drugs to one of these safe, designated locations, and I thank the Attorney General and his office for making this program accessible in our community.”

“It is not unusual for people to have half empty bottles of unused pills in their medicine cabinet,” said Assemblymember Monica Wallace. “Those unused prescription drugs create the opportunity for young adults to experiment with and abuse opioids. Last week, I sponsored a community forum on the opioid epidemic where safe disposal of unused prescriptions was presented as a pillar of preventing addiction. National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is a great opportunity for households to safely dispose of unused and unwanted prescription drugs.”

“The proper disposal of unused, unwanted and expired prescription drugs is crucial in the fight against prescription drug addiction and the opioid epidemic. In many circumstances, prescription drugs are left unattended and may ultimately end up in the hands of individuals who are or can become addicted. Cheektowaga recognized the importance of disposing no longer used prescription drugs and took a proactive approach installing a permanent prescription drug drop off box in the police department’s main lobby. I’m hopeful Cheektowaga residents will be proactive in properly disposing their unwanted, unused and expired prescription drugs. I thank Attorney General Schneiderman for bringing attention to this issue and for making it easier for individuals to find drop-off locations in our area,” said Cheektowaga Supervisor Diane Benczkowski.

“Prescription drug take back days are an important tool in our fight to end the opioid epidemic,” said Avi Israel, President of Save the Michaels of the World. “Leaving prescription drugs in your cabinet is like leaving a loaded gun on your counter. Find a take back location near you, make the short drive, and remove them from your home.”

“Providing New Yorkers with access to safe pharmaceutical disposal options is critical to ending the antiquated practice of flushing drugs, which is polluting our Great Lakes and adversely impacting aquatic life,” said Brian Smith, Associate Executive Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “We urge the public to take advantage of take back days and drug drop boxes at pharmacies and police stations in order to protect the health of our waters. CCE commends Attorney General Schneiderman for his work to address this critical environmental and public health issue.”