ClearYourCabinet.Com gives New Yorkers new tools to search for nearest drug disposal sites and sign up for text and email reminders
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the launch of ClearYourCabinet.com, a new statewide initiative and website dedicated to helping New Yorkers safely dispose of prescription drugs. As part of his multi-levered approach to tackling the opioid epidemic, the initiative is aimed at helping New Yorkers take one of the simplest steps to prevent addiction by safely disposing of their unused drugs at drop-off sites around New York - including at two-dozen sites around Buffalo.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, four out of five new heroin users start out by misusing prescription drugs; and according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.
"Getting unused prescription drugs out of your home can stop an addiction before it starts," Schneiderman said. "I am asking every New Yorker to check out their medicine cabinet, identify any unused prescription drugs, and then visit clearyourcabinet.com to find out where you can safely dispose of them. ... These simple steps can help prevent addiction and save lives."
Building on national efforts to encourage Americans to bring unused prescription and over-the-counter drugs to designated sites for safe disposal, the website gives New Yorkers new tools to find their nearest drop-off locations and request email or text message reminders to go and dispose of their unused medication.
Schneiderman's initiative was launched through a collaboration with volunteers from some of New York's leading tech startups after a hackathon focused on the opioid crisis and hosted by the attorney general's office in March.
Disposal of unused prescriptions and over-the-counter medication at these locations is no questions asked and free. New Yorkers cannot bring illegal drugs or needles and sharps (for more information on the disposal of needles/sharps, click here). As a last resort, for communities without a safe disposal site nearby, the DEC recommends mixing medications (do not crush tablets or capsules) with water and then adding salt, ashes, dirt, cat litter, coffee grounds or another undesirable substance to avoid accidental or intentional misuse of drugs. To prevent unintentional consumption by scavenging humans, pets or wildlife, do not conceal discarded drugs in food. Their full guidance is available here.
In addition to advancing efforts for the disposal of unused opioids, Schneiderman's multi-levered strategy to tackle New York's evolving opioid epidemic includes:
•Bringing New York's most effective law enforcement resources together in the ongoing SURGE Initiative to root out violent drug trafficking in rural communities and upstate New York. Since launching one year ago, SURGE has taken down nine major drug trafficking rings across New York - resulting in 302 traffickers taken off the streets.
•Obtaining settlements with major national and global health insurers, including Cigna and Anthem, which insure more than 4 million New Yorkers, to remove barriers to life-saving treatment for opioid use disorder. The agreements put an end to the insurers' policy of requiring prior authorization for medication-assisted treatment ("MAT"), which can lead to significant delays for patients seeking relief from addiction.
•Creating the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act ("I-STOP"), a series of enhancements to New York's prescription drug monitoring program that provide doctors with patient's up-to-date controlled substance prescription history and establishing a safe disposal program providing a place for New Yorkers to get rid of expired and unneeded drugs - thus reducing the likelihood of stolen and forged prescriptions being used to obtain controlled substances from pharmacies. I-STOP reduced "doctor shopping," a practice in which an individual attempts to obtain the same or similar prescriptions from multiple physicians, by 90 percent since 2014.
•Launching the Community Overdose Prevention ("COP") program, a life-saving initiative that enabled state and local law enforcement officers in the state of New York to carry naloxone, the heroin antidote that can immediately reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Since the program's implementation in April 2014, more than 100 overdoses were reversed using kits provided by the COP program, which distributed over 27,000 kits across the state.
•Obtaining an agreement with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals to cut and cap the price of naloxone for all agencies in New York, reducing the price of naloxone by nearly 20 percent.
•Enforcing mental health parity laws to reach agreements with six health insurance companies, requiring them to implement sweeping reforms in their administration of behavioral health benefits, in particular relating to medical management practices, coverage of residential treatment for substance abuse, and co-pays for outpatient treatment, and to submit regular compliance reports. The agreements ultimately provided millions of dollars in penalties and over $2 million in restitution for members whose claims were improperly denied.
•Successfully prosecuting more than 10 licensed prescribers, including operators of "pill mills" and other unlawful practices for crimes related to improper opioid prescriptions.
•Urging health insurance companies to review their coverage and payment policies that contribute to the opioid epidemic, as well as sending letters to the country's three largest pharmacy benefit managers requesting documents, data and other information regarding how they are addressing the opioid crisis.
"We are dealing with a deadly epidemic in Western New York that is directly linked to prescription drugs," Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn said. "One of the ways we can combat this growing problem is through prevention. By properly disposing of prescription medicine, you stop those pills from getting into the wrong hands - and hopefully stop someone else from falling victim to opioid addiction."
"As we continue to fight the opioid crisis that is devastating families across our state and nation, we must also continue to take steps to prevent these drugs from falling into the wrong hands in the first place," said New York State Sen. Tim Kennedy.