ALBANY — New York will soon have a statewide program for collecting old medication to ensure it’s disposed of properly after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law this week.
Cuomo approved the new drug take-back program on Tuesday, a year after he vetoed a similar program amid concerns the cost would be borne by pharmacists.
The new program requires drug manufacturers to cover the cost of collecting drugs at pharmacies and other facilities across the state in an effort to cut back on those people who flush old medications, which can contaminate water supplies.
The Democratic governor signed the bill without comment after the Legislature approved it in June.
Under the new program, pharmacies with at least 10 outlets — such as those at CVS or Walmart stores — will be required to accept old medications for safe disposal. That includes both prescription and nonprescription drugs, but it does not include things like vitamins.
Pharmaceutical companies, meanwhile, will be required to submit drug take-back plans to the state for approval and cover the pharmacies’ costs. They will also have to ensure plans are in place to cater to those who live in the state’s rural areas.
Mail-order prescription companies, such as Express Scripts, will be required to provide pre-paid envelopes to mail back unused drugs at no cost to patients.
There was no immediate comment Wednesday from Pfizer, the major pharmaceutical company, or PhRMA, which represents the industry.
New York pharmacists, however, supported the measure, which will take effect in six months.
The bill is “a balanced, manageable, statewide approach that that will ensure New Yorkers in every community, rural and urban, will have safe and convenient ways to remove medications, including opiates, from their homes,” Kathy Febraio, executive director of the state Pharmacists Society, said in a statement.
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