A law passed in mid-January in New Jersey requires pharmacies to provide drug disposal options and to educate their customers on how to safely dispose of unused, unwanted, or expired medications.1 Now, 1 drug disposal vendor predicts which states may enact similar regulations.
Charlie’s Law, introduced by Senator Robert Singer (R), was named in memory of Charlie Van Tassel, who succumbed to addiction at 33 years of age.2
“All too often addiction begins at home, stemming from abused prescriptions or unused medication falling into the wrong hands. To someone like Charlie, who fought to stay sober, a bottle left unattended can be life-threatening,” Singer said in a statement.2 “We can avoid addiction through proper disposal of unused drugs. Ensuring pharmacists educate patients on how to best dispose of unused medication will save countless lives.”
Under the state law, pharmacists must “make available on-site, for purchase or at no cost to the patient, at least 1 consumer method for individuals to dispose of unwanted or expired prescription drugs, including, but not limited to over-the-counter, at-home or site-of-use solutions or secured medication collection kiosks or boxes,” the law stated.2
In addition, any pharmacy practice site, other than a long-term pharmacy, must educate patients on safe drug disposal and the risks of addiction when dispensing controlled substances.2
Pharmacies must provide patients with written informational materials advising that when unused, unwanted, or expired drugs and medications are not properly, safely, and promptly disposed of there is a risk that the drug or medication can be stolen, diverted, abused, misused, or accidentally ingested, which can pose a risk to the health and safety of the patient and other members of the patient’s household, the law stated.2
They must also advise patients that children are particularly at risk of accidentally ingesting unused, unwanted, and expired medications that have not been properly, safely, and promptly disposed of.
Pharmacies must also educate patients that, when drugs or medications are disposed of in the household trash without the drug or medication having been rendered deactivated, inaccessible, or otherwise unusable, “The drug or medication may be stolen by individuals seeking to divert, abuse, or misuse the drug or medication,” the law stated.1
New Jersey is the most aggressive state with drug disposal requirements as other states don’t have similar legislation underway, Jason Sundby, chairman and CEO of Verde Environmental Technologies, which makes the Deterra Drug Deactivation System, told Drug Topics®.
However, Sundby predicted that Ohio would be the next state to introduce similar legislation. The “progressive” state’s Bureau of Workers Compensation program recently began co-dispensing the Deterra Drug Deactivation System.
“Almost 70% of people on Workers Comp receive an acute painkiller,” Sundby said. “However, they are not preventing that abuse by saying, ‘Now that you are done with this drug, deactivate it and render the drug inert’.”
The Deterra System, which makes drugs inert/unusable when exposed to activated carbon, is available for purchase online. Deterra kits for pharmacies include Deterra pouches, a countertop or shelf display, customer and pharmacist education materials, and a customizable poster.
- Singer RW, Scutari NP, Bucco AR, Greenstein LR. S3933 ScaSa (2R) “Charlie’s Law”; requires pharmacy practice sites and hospice programs to furnish patients with information and means to safely dispose of unused prescription drugs and medications. New Jersey Legislature. 2019. https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bills/BillView.asp?Session=LIS2018&BillNumber=S3933.
- Singer’s ‘Charlie’s Law’ to Combat Opioid Addiction Is Now Law. New Jersey’s 30th Legislative District Senator Robert Singer’s website. https://www.senatenj.com/index.php/singer/singers-charlies-law-to-combat-opioid-addiction-is-now-law/46268.