Armato & Murphy Bill to Inform Patients of Safe Drug Disposal

Assembly Democrats John Armato and Carol Murphy have introduced legislation requiring that patients be provided information about safe drug disposal and under certain circumstances, receive a nontoxic composition for the safe disposal of unused, unwanted or expired drugs.

“It’s no secret that in many instances, improperly discarded prescription drugs and medications get into the wrong hands,” said Armato (D-Atlantic). “This bill will encourage health care professionals to inform patients on ways to keep this from happening.”

The bill (A-3988) requires healthcare professionals, when issuing a prescription drug or medication that is a controlled substance, to provide patients with oral instructions and written information on the proper, safe and timely disposal of unused, unwanted, or expired drugs and medications. Patients also would be offered, under certain circumstances, a free, or for purchase, nontoxic composition to dispose a drug or medication.

The rationale for the bill stems from the fact that medications and drugs not properly disposed:

· can be stolen, misused, abused or accidently ingested,

· pose a risk to patients or members of their household, or

· be taken by unsuspecting children (or even adults) who can become addicted.

“This bill also has the wellbeing of our environment in mind,” Murphy (D-Burlington) added. “Improperly disposed prescription drugs and medications can leak into the ecosystem and potentially harm the environment. This is especially true when they are discarded in household trash or flushed down a drain.”

The bill calls for health care professionals to provide the safety information and nontoxic composition when:

· issuing new or existing prescriptions and medications to patients and do so regardless of the health care setting.

· a change in a patient’s course of treatment requires a different medication.

It also mandates that pharmacy practice sites–excluding long-term care pharmacies–servicing patients with new, existing and refill prescriptions provide safety disposal information and offer a nontoxic composition. In addition, hospice care programs accepting unused drugs and medications must provide safety information and the nontoxic composition to patients upon their initial enrollment when there is a change in the patient’s course of treatment; the patient stops using a particular drug or medication; or the patient no longer receives hospice care.

The bill was introduced last month and referred to the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.