The Business Council opposes S.7354 (Hannon), which would mandates that drug manufacturers create and fund drug take-back programs, including a “pharmacy collection system to provide convenient, ongoing collection services to all persons seeking to dispose of covered drugs…” for the bill is overly broad, duplicative and will lead to increased drug costs for consumers.
While the Business Council had some issues with the sponsor’s S.6750 in the last session, which was ultimately vetoed by the Governor, that bill was a far more tailored approach to achieve the stated goal of that bill and the instant one, to “give the state another tool in the fight against prescription drug abuse...,” specifically narcotics. Instead of specifically dealing with narcotic prescription drugs, this bill mandates a take-back program for all prescription and nonprescription drugs, drugs in medical devices and combination products as well as veterinary drugs, the vast majority of which carry no risk of abuse.
By including all drugs in this mandate, the bill ensures a number of unforeseen consequences. There is no consideration for the vastness of the undertaking of inclusion of all medications including animal medications. Such a policy mandate could easily overwhelm drug take-back sites, creating constantly full return receptacles resulting in both increased costs for pharmacies and other sites as well as the very real risk of consumers leaving unused drugs outside of bins, thus increasing the very risk of abuse that the bill aims to cure.
While earlier legislative attempts at take-back programs included options for cost-sharing for a variety of take-back options, this bill mandates that manufacturers cover all the costs of this program. While a single return envelope may have voluntarily cost a consumer $3-$5 once or twice a year, this program will undoubtedly cost manufacturers millions of dollars annually. In the end, this cost, the cost of disposing everything from opioids to flea powder, will be borne by the consumer.
Since 2014, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has provided a number of options for consumer disposal of unused controlled substances. Under DEA regulations, entities which are DEA registered and authorized, may voluntarily establish programs for safe disposal of controlled substances. The DEA, recognizing the diversity of circumstances and needs among participants, allows for a variety of programs including mail-back, take-back events, as well as collection bins.
In addition to a variety of voluntary programs, law enforcement based programs and others, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation runs a Pilot Pharmaceutical Take-Back Program, funded through the Environmental Protection Fund, where DEC purchases medication collection boxes and pays for the disposal of waste pharmaceuticals collected by participating facilities for two years.
We recognize that the disposal of superfluous opioids is an important issue and we are encouraged by the vast participation in the DEA’s voluntary take back program among pharmacies across the state – the voluntary program is working. Mandating a massive take-back program for such a broad variety of drugs will be ineffective at achieving its goal and will drive up the price of all medication. Lawmakers should be looking for ways to enhance current programs without creating extraordinarily expensive mandates.
For these reasons, The Business Council respectfully opposes S.7354.