Legislators Move Pharmacy ‘Take-Back’ Act Forward

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BY VICTORIA TANNER

A local law that would require pharmacies to provide the proper disposal of unused controlled substances and medical sharps was moved to the public hearing phase by county legislators of the Multi Services Committee on Tuesday.

Sponsored by Minority Leader Lon Hofstein, The Pharmacy ‘Take-Back’ Act is designed to help prevent controlled substance abuse and substances from ending up in the water supply due to flushing. The law will also protect waste workers from accidental injuries from disposed sharps that may contain blood-transmitted diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis.

The Legislature’s Multi-Services committee, chaired by Philip Soskin, heard from a local pharmacist and representatives from the District Attorney’s Office, Consumer Protection, the Sheriff’s Dept. and Stony Point’s Chief of Police Brian Moore. All of the speakers voiced support for the law to make it easier for people to safely dispose of prescriptions and sharps. Moore provided clarification about the role of police in collecting and disposing of these items.

Before Soskin made a motion to move the law forward, Ilan Schoenberger, District Four’s legislator, voiced concerns about details within the law.

Schoenberger stated he was not going to move the law forward because it did not state where the collection bins would come from. Furthermore, alleged lack of clarity over the funder of the program – either pharmacies or the county – led him to disagreements with Hofstein.

“I want to make amendments so the county pays for the boxes,” Schoenberger said. “If the county doesn’t supply the boxes then they could be different at every pharmacy.”

Schoenberger also wants the county to be responsible for collecting and disposing of the controlled substances and sharps. Hofstein stated the law has been pushed back and delayed multiple times and that not moving it forward would “delay saving kids’ lives.”

Hofstein and the law’s co-sponsors can make changes prior to the public hearing, where the final wording will be presented for public comment. The public hearing date has yet to be determined.

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