TRENTON, N.J. – One-in-three Americans have expired or unused medication sitting in their bathroom cabinets, which too often end up into the wrong hands, infiltrate landfills or water supplies.
A bill (S3240) requiring pharmacists to educate their patients on how to safely discard unused, unwanted or expired drugs and needles passed the state Assembly Health Committee Thursday. The bill is sponsored by Assemblymen Sean Kean and Edward Thomson.
“Sometimes the most dangerous drugs are hiding in our medicine cabinets,” said Kean (R-Monmouth). “This is an eye-opener that unfortunately isn’t being recognized like it should. It is too unsafe to let them fall into the wrong hands or end up in our environment.”
Under the proposal, pharmacists must provide instructions that also warn patients of the potential risks if the medication is not discarded safely. They must also make available a deactivation product that can neutralize 98 percent of drugs.
The bill was named after Charlie Van Tassel, who died at 33 years old after battling addiction for many years.
“There is a lot more we all have to do to help people like Charlie who fight to stay sober,” said Thomson (R-Monmouth). “Pharmacists can provide valuable education so that their patients don’t become part of or contribute to unsettling statistics.”
More than 70 percent of people abusing opioids for nonmedical reasons get them from family or friends, according to surveys conducted for the government’s National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health. Fifty-five percent obtained the drugs for free, another 11 percent bought them, and 5 percent got them without asking.