Law requiring drug store to take back pills a good idea

I ran into Mike Hein and Adele Reiter the other day on Wall Street. The county exec and his chief of staff were, on that pretty decent spring afternoon, excited that a concept that Hein has been working on for a few years is close to becoming reality.

That concept is passing a law at the state level that would require chain pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, etc., to accept unwanted prescription drugs at their stores.

Seems obvious and the kind of thing that would make one think, “What, they don’t do that already?” But they don’t and won’t, apparently concerned about taking on the responsibility, the cost and the liability.

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That’s understandable, sure. But I am with Hein on this one and hope the legislation makes it into law. (The county exec noted that it has a Democratic sponsor in Aileen Gunther in the Assembly and a GOP one in the Senate in Kemp Hannon — a must, but not yet a lock.)

The problem with opiate addiction in our community is by now painfully obvious to us all. Life after life after life has been lost around here to it; often it’s the lives of people in their 20s and 30s who had a lot of years ahead of them. It’s been a relentless, seemingly endless catastrophe that will leave scars for decades to come on those who’ve lost people they love to it, and lessens us all by extension. In an emergency situation, we have to get out of our comfort zones, roll up the sleeves and exert ourselves.

In this case, this includes chain pharmacies. While it’s way too simplistic to blame the drugstores for this epidemic alone, they make a lot of money in our towns on prescriptions. It would have been nice of them to proactively intensify their good corporate citizenship and volunteer to do this, but they haven’t.

Yes, there are other avenues for people to get rid of their unwanted scripts. (And get rid of them they should; bottles lying around of unused opiates, benzodiazepines and other things people can get high off of bring burglars to houses like unsecured garbage cans bring bears to driveways.) But there aren’t a lot of collection points and many of them are in police stations, where many people don’t really want to go. (There’s a funny story about the time my wife and I brought our old meds to a collection in New Paltz. It was my job to round them all up but it didn’t occur to me at the time that I should have left them in their original containers. You should have seen the look on the deputy’s face when I handed him a bag full of pills that looked like a prop from one of the Cheech and Chong movies. No charges were filed.)

So again — this is a good idea for a law and I support its passage. It won’t solve the crisis in and of itself, but it’ll help.

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