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Congresswoman Louise Slaughter

Representing the 25th District of New York

Slaughter Marks National Drug Take Back Day and Announces Introduction of Bill to Tackle Opioid Addiction Epidemic

October 30, 2017
Press Release
Legislation would hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for safe disposal of drugs

ROCHESTER, NY – While marking National Drug Take Back Day at the Fairport Police Department today, Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter (NY-25), the only microbiologist in Congress, announced the introduction of The Pharmaceutical Stewardship Act to help address the nation’s overwhelming opioid abuse epidemic. The legislation creates a framework for disposing of unused opioids and other prescription drugs. Over 70 percent of Americans who misuse painkillers obtain them from friends or relatives.

“More Americans die every day from drug overdoses than from car crashes, with the majority of those deaths involving prescription drugs that were obtained legally. At a time when the opioid epidemic is continuing to devastate communities across the country, it is especially important that we dispose of our unused or expired pharmaceuticals in a safe way. That means taking them to participating locations like the Fairport Police Department,” said Congresswoman Slaughter. “Just as Americans are stepping up today, Congress must also do more. That’s why I’m introducing legislation to finally hold the producers of these drugs—the big pharmaceutical companies—accountable for the safe disposal of the products that make them billions in profits.”

“Given the vast availability of prescription medications sitting idle in our households, the prescription drop off program is an important part of our community efforts to dispose of these medications in an environmentally responsible manner. In addition, the opioid epidemic has prompted the need to favor this program as a proactive means to disposing of excess narcotics that may otherwise contribute to abuse and possible overdose. The drop-off program is just one of many proactive and educational initiatives that are used to address the opioid crisis,” said Chief Samuel Farina, Fairport Village Police. 

National Drug Take Back Day provides a safe, convenient, and responsible way to dispose prescription medication. Participating locations can be found online here. This year’s event comes at a time when data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that opioids—a class of drugs that include prescription pain medications and heroin—contributed to more than 15,000 deaths in 2015. Last year, 169 people in Monroe County died from an opioid overdose.

Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has found that the number of heroin-related deaths in America has increased 533% since 2002.

The Pharmaceutical Stewardship Act would provide Americans with a convenient way to safely dispose of their pharmaceuticals that ensures extra pills are kept out of the hands of children, teenagers, or criminals, and don’t end up in our water supply. The legislation requires that the program is financed by pharmaceutical producers and mandates that drugs are to be collected and disposed of at the locations where prescription medications are dispensed.

This bill is one part of Slaughter’s strategy to fight the opioid addiction epidemic. Last year, she also joined with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to introduce the Preventing Overprescribing for Pain Act to require the CDC to issue guidelines for the safe prescribing of opioids for the treatment of acute pain. The CDC is currently only focused on guidelines for opioids prescribed to treat chronic pain. However, many individuals become addicted to opioids after taking prescriptions for acute pain. Acute pain includes pain following a broken bone, wisdom tooth extraction, or other surgeries, whereas chronic pain is long-term pain that can last weeks, months, or years.

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