News & Press: For Immediate Release

Pharmacy-Based Drug Take-Back Programs Made Simple with Newly Released How-To Guide

Tuesday, September 20, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Suzy Whalen




Vivian Fuhrman, PSI – – (617) 236-4771
Scott Cassel, PSI – - (617) 236-4822
Andrew Radin, NYPSC – - (315) 453-2866


Pharmacy-Based Drug Take-Back Programs Made Simple with
Newly Released How-To Guide

Includes best practices for program set up, cost information, and
effective promotional strategies


Boston, Mass. and New York— Today, the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) and the New York Product Stewardship Council (NYPSC) released a How-to Guide for Drug Take-Back to assist pharmacists, government officials, non-profits, community groups, and residents interested in starting a drug take-back program in their community pharmacy. Drug collection and disposal programs represent a key strategy to reduce the drug abuse epidemic plaguing communities across the U.S. and to protect our waterways.

Although the number of drug take-back programs continues to increase across the country, only a small fraction of the U.S. population has access to these programs, and many existing collection locations do not accept controlled substances. As a result, residents who want to remove unwanted pharmaceuticals from their homes often toss medicines down the drain, which can lead to water contamination and adverse environmental impacts. Placing medications in the trash leaves drugs accessible to children, pets, and addicts, even when mixed with kitty litter or coffee grounds. Alternatively, storing leftover drugs in home medicine cabinets can lead to accidental poisonings and prescription drug abuse, especially among teens.

“Over 1,000 New Yorkers die each year from a drug overdose – often from stored prescription drugs – and leftover pharmaceuticals can also make their way into our water supply," said Andrew Radin, chair of NYPSC and recycling coordinator for the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency. “This How-to Guide serves as a critical resource for pharmacists and community advocates to run programs that divert these dangerous drugs from residents’ homes and drinking water.”

The How-to Guide is informed by a six-month drug take-back pilot project designed and implemented by PSI and NYPSC, funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and supported by the Development Authority of the North Country and the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority. Located in rural New York, the Lewis and Oneida County pilot program offered residents free pharmacy-based collection receptacles and mail-back envelopes as ongoing, convenient disposal options for their leftover medications (including controlled substances).

Pharmacies participating in the pilot included Bonaparte Pharmacy in Harrisville, The Falls Pharmacy in Lyon Falls, U&I Pharmacy in Vernon, Garro Drugs in Utica, and Lewis County General Hospital Pharmacy in Lowville. Due to high resident demand and satisfaction, four of the five participating pharmacies opted to continue offering residents this safe disposal option for removing leftover medications from their homes, taking over the program cost themselves. The main reason the fifth pharmacy did not continue was its close proximity to a hospital-based collection site.

“PSI and NYPSC simplified the process of running a drug take-back program at our pharmacy. Thanks to their guidance, our store collected a significant amount of unwanted medications and also benefitted from increased foot traffic and customer loyalty,” said Ed Ballou, pharmacy manager at U&I Pharmacy. “The How-to Guide they compiled will serve as a helpful resource for other pharmacies nationwide to set up, implement, and promote drug collection receptacles and mail-back options in their stores.” 

“Pharmacies that choose to run drug take-back programs provide a critical service to their communities, helping reduce the public health and environmental impacts of leftover drugs,” said Scott Cassel, chief executive officer and founder of PSI. “However, funding from drug manufacturers – mandated through extended producer responsibility laws – is still needed to make these programs sustainable and effective on a state or national scale.”

The release of the How-to Guide for Drug Take-Back coincides with a free PSI/NYPSC webinar on September 21, entitled “Best Practices for Running a Pharmacy-Based Drug Take-Back Program.” Register today.

Learn more about PSI’s work on pharmaceuticals by visiting the PSI website, or contact Vivian Fuhrman, Ph.D., PSI Associate for Policy and Programs, at (617) 236-4771.



About the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI)

PSI is a national, membership-based nonprofit committed to reducing the health, safety, and environmental impacts of consumer products across their lifecycle with a strong focus on sustainable end-of-life management. Headquartered in Boston, Mass., PSI takes a unique product stewardship approach to solving waste management problems by encouraging product design changes and mediating stakeholder dialogues. With 47 state environmental agency members, along with hundreds of local government members from coast-to-coast, and 110 corporate, business, academic, non-U.S. government, and organizational partners, we work to design, implement, evaluate, strengthen, and promote both legislative and voluntary product stewardship initiatives across North America. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.


About the New York Product Stewardship Council (NYPSC)

NYPSC works to implement the principles of product stewardship in New York State and nationally by providing leadership, guidance, and resources (including policies, evaluations, and educational tools) to individuals, organizations, institutions, local governments, the state legislature, elected officials, and manufacturers. Product stewardship is the act of minimizing health, safety, environmental and social impacts of a product and its packaging throughout all lifecycle stages, and maximizing economic benefits. The producer of a product has the greatest ability to minimize adverse impacts, but other stakeholders such as suppliers, retailers, and consumers also play a role. The NYPSC educates these stakeholders about the benefits of product stewardship and provides a forum for the exchange of information regarding existing policies and programs.