TRENTON, N.J. – This week the governor signed a bill (A5667), sponsored by Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce and co-sponsored by Assemblyman Ned Thomson, requiring pharmacies and hospice programs to provide patients with information and methods to safely discard prescription medications.
“The importance of properly disposing of unwanted or unused medications and needles cannot be understated,” said DeCroce (R-Morris). “This law will prevent potentially deadly prescriptions like opioids from getting into the wrong hands.”
One in three Americans have expired or unused medication sitting in their bathroom cabinets. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 18 million Americans misused prescription medications at least once in 2017. A national survey found that more than 70 percent of people abusing opioids for nonmedical reasons get them from family or friends.
“My family experienced the terrible pain of opioid abuse when we lost my nephew to an overdose four years ago,” said Thomson (R-Monmouth). “This law will empower people to be a part of the solution by taking that extra step to safely and securely rid their homes of unused prescriptions so they can prevent a similar tragedy.”
The law requires pharmacies to have at least one method of disposal on-site such as over-the-counter deactivation solutions or secure drop boxes. Patients also must receive information about the dangers of improper drug disposal and the ways to safely discard unused, unwanted, or expired drugs. If a patient in a hospice program wants to dispose of unused drugs, the hospice program must provide the patient with oral and written information on safe disposal and offer at least one method of drug disposal including over-the-counter solutions or collection boxes.
Pharmacies must also provide information on the safe disposal of used hypodermic syringes and needles to prevent the spread of disease and accidental injury. Information on safe needle disposal will be available on the Department of Health’s website.
The law is named “Charlie’s Law” for Charlie Van Tassel who died at the age of 33 after struggling with addiction for many years.