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Some of New York's lakes, rivers and streams contain low levels of pharmaceuticals, which may be attributed, in part, to years of consumers flushing unwanted drugs down the drain. Furthermore, prescription drug abuse has become epidemic across New York State and the nation. Providing a safe, convenient and effective way to collect unwanted drugs via a take-back program can improve water quality, reduce potential adverse impacts to aquatic organisms, and dramatically reduce public health and safety risks. 

To protect New York’s water quality and also help address the drug abuse problem, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has launched a statewide pilot pharmaceutical take-back program. Funding to support this initiative was provided for in the State Budget. The pilot program will cover the full cost of purchasing a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) compliant medication drop box, replacement inner liners, and the cost of pick up, transport and destruction of all collected waste pharmaceuticals by a DEA-registered reverse distributor for two years. DEC will purchase the medication drop box and have it shipped directly to participants. The participants in turn will be required to install, operate and maintain the collection box according to DEA regulations. DEC will hire a third party contractor who will either pick up, transport and destroy these waste drugs directly or will use a common carrier to undertake these activities.

The pilot program is open to New York State health care entities such as retail chain and independent pharmacies, hospitals and medical clinics with on-site pharmacies, and DEA authorized collectors servicing Long Term Care Facilities (LTCFs). LTCFs cannot sign up on their own; the pharmacy that services the LTCF must enroll on their behalf. 

 
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