Assemblymember Taylor: Combatting Opioid Epidemic on All Fronts

New statewide drug take-back program takes effect

Assemblymember Taylor (D-Manhattan) announced that the Drug Take Back Act goes into effect January 6, 2019, creating a statewide drug take-back program – paid for by drug manufacturers, not taxpayers (Ch. 120 of 2018). The program requires participation by all chain and mail-order pharmacies doing business in the state and is part of the Assembly Majority’s continued efforts to fight the opioid epidemic and save lives. The Assembly also led the push for “I-STOP,” creating the first real-time prescription-drug database in the country.

“Families all over the state are grieving loved ones lost to opioid addiction every day,” said Assemblymember Taylor. “The epidemic has shown that anyone can be at risk for addiction to prescription painkillers and one way that we can combat the crisis is to prevent addiction before it begins. The Drug Take Back Act is intended to help stop addiction before it starts by limiting the availability of unused prescription medication.”

Opioid overdoses took the lives of more than 42,000 Americans in 2016.[1] In New York State, the rate of opioid overdose deaths doubled between 2010 and 2015.[2] The nationwide crisis has reached such epidemic proportions that life expectancy in the U.S. has decreased for the second time in three years.[3] Assemblymember Taylor notes that these aren’t just grim statistics – they represent real lives being lost and families being torn apart.

The new law requires all drug manufacturers to implement a take-back program in which both chain and mail-order pharmacies offer on-site collection or prepaid envelopes for New Yorkers to dispose of unused medication. Opioid addiction often begins with the use of prescription painkillers, whether obtained legitimately through a doctor or by taking them from someone else’s medicine cabinet. The program will help to prevent the latter situation. The program will also help ensure that these drugs are not improperly disposed of by flushing down the toilet or throwing them in the trash, which can cause them to seep into the water supply creating an environmental hazard.   

The 2018-19 state budget allocated nearly $250 million toward addressing the heroin and opioid crisis, including increased funding to strengthen educational and awareness campaigns, prevention, treatment and recovery programs, and residential service opportunities. In 2016, the Assembly passed comprehensive laws to get more people on the road to recovery. The measures increased the maximum time for detox in a treatment facility, required insurers to cover a minimum of 14 days of inpatient treatment and substance-use disorder medications, allowed more professionals to administer lifesaving Narcan, mandated training in pain management for prescribers to avoid over-prescription of painkillers, and limited the amount that can be prescribed for acute pain (Ch. 69, 70 and 71 of 2016).

In 2012, the Assembly overhauled the way prescription drugs are administered and tracked in the state with “I-STOP,” cracking down on abuse and strengthening regulations to curb improper use (Ch. 447 of 2012). The law requires doctors to review a patient’s prescription history on the database prior to prescribing certain controlled substances.

“With a new legislative session underway, we elected officials continue to do everything we can to prevent addiction, increase access to treatment and ensure those suffering and their loved ones are not forgotten or ignored,” said Assemblymember Taylor.