Five hospitals serving rural New York State began collecting leftover pharmaceuticals from the public free of charge through July 2018. Designed and implemented by the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) and the New York Product Stewardship Council (NYPSC), this pilot drug take-back program offers residents in Delaware, Monroe, Otsego, and St. Lawrence counties convenient locations to dispose of medications – one part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce the public health and environmental impacts of unused drugs.
Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, the six-month pilot program enables residents to drop off unwanted, expired, or leftover medications via collection kiosks and pre-paid mail-back envelopes for free, no questions asked. The locked kiosks and mail-back envelopes, acquired through Stericycle, Inc. and managed by the hospital pharmacies, accept both over-the-counter and prescription drugs (schedule II-V). The pilot program is informed by PSI’s How-to Guide for Drug Take-Back and an Advisory Committee consisting of public and private-sector experts. These include state and local government, environmental groups, drug abuse prevention groups, Covanta — a pioneer in drug destruction — and others.
“More than 2,000 people in New York State die annually from opioid overdose — most commonly from prescription pain relievers,” said Andrew Radin, NYPSC Chair and Recycling Director for Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency. “We are honored to work with this impressive coalition to safeguard the environmental and public health of New York communities.”
Participating hospitals include:
• Bassett Medical Center, One Atwell Road, Cooperstown, NY, 13326 – (607) 547-6528
Kiosk: Clinic lobby near outpatient pharmacy; Hours: Mon-Fri 8am – 5:30pm; Sat 8:30am – 12:30pm
• Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, 214 King Street, Ogdensburg, NY, 13669 – (315) 393-3600
Kiosk: Main lobby; Hours: Mon-Fri 7:30am – 4pm
• Gouverneur Hospital, 77 W Barney St., Gouverneur, NY, 13642 – (315) 287-1000
Kiosk: Main lobby; Hours: Mon-Fri 7am – 3pm
• O’Connor Hospital, 460 Andes Road, Delhi, NY, 13753 – (607) 746-0365
Kiosk: Outpatient pharmacy waiting area; Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30am – 5pm; Sat 8am – 2 pm
• Rochester General Hospital, 1425 Portland Ave., Rochester, NY, 14621 – (585) 922-5382
Kiosk location: Main lobby; Hours: Open 24/7 every day
“Hospital pharmacies are the most convenient, accessible location for their patient population to safely dispose of unused medications,” said Scott Cassel, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of PSI. “This pilot program makes it easy for patients to dispose of drugs responsibly, and will be a model for hospitals across New York and nationwide.”
“As a pharmacist, I recognize the dire need for convenient, safe drug disposal options,” said Susan Bradley, PharmD, Director of Pharmacy Services at Gouverneur Hospital. “We are providing a critical service, and our hospital benefits from increased loyalty and appreciation among our patient community.”
Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the U.S. – and nearly 70 percent of people who begin abusing prescription drugs get them from a family member or friend, often taking them from medicine cabinets. “Drugs stored in the home can find their way into the hands of children or potential addicts,” warned Greg Guimond, RHP, Director of Pharmacy at the Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center. “Our hospital is proud to provide this new service to help our patients protect their loved ones.”
William LeCates, MD, Acting President at Bassett Medical Center, said, “We are committed to lessening the burden of opioid addiction in our communities. Removing unneeded or expired medications from homes is important in preventing medication misuse and diversion, and is also an important part of preventing addiction and overdose. Our goal in this project is to provide an easily accessible and safe means for disposing of unneeded medications.”
In addition to setting up safe drug disposal options, PSI and NYPSC will work with medical providers to educate patients about safe drug disposal. Douglas J. Hosie, RPH, System Director of Pharmacy at Rochester General Hospital, said, “This pilot program will make it easier for our doctors to keep our patients and their families safe from potentially dangerous leftover medications. We will not only have the materials to educate our patients about potential dangers, but can also point them to a drug drop-off kiosk right here in the lobby.”
At the end of this project, PSI and NYPSC will release an online Toolkit that medical professionals nationwide can use to learn about safe drug disposal and educate their patients about how to properly remove leftover drugs from their homes. The project will conclude with a national webinar to share results and lessons learned.