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New Law Provides for Safe Disposal of Medicines

A new federal law, signed yesterday by President Barack Obama, will reduce costs and create more opportunities for collecting unused medicines from homes and long-term care facilities. The Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act will help create pharmaceutical take-back programs meant to prevent drug abuse, reduce the chances of accidental poisonings and keep pharmaceutical drugs out of the environment.

"Passing the Safe and Secure Drug Disposal Act [sic] is a win for our children and our environment," said U.S. Representative Jay Inslee, D-Wash., a key House bill sponsor, in a press release. "Prescription drug abuse is a growing plague in our communities. This law will give communities a common sense approach to easily and safely get rid of leftover prescription medications."

According to the Product Stewardship Institute, a Boston-based non-profit environmental group, the new law empowers the Drug Enforcement Administration to establish new regulations that will provide residents and long-term care facilities with greater flexibility to dispose of drugs. These may include drop-off programs and mail-back options.

Currently, it is difficult to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs in a responsible manner. Under current law, consumers are prohibited from giving certain unneeded, unused or expired drugs to anyone besides law enforcement officers.