Salina (WSYR-TV) – There’s a good chance you have some old, unused prescription medication at home and, on Saturday, you’ll have an opportunity to get rid of it and keep it out of the wrong hands.
Experts say prescription drug abuse is a major problem across the country – although they’re legal, prescription drugs are falling into the wrong hands too often.
The Upstate New York Poison Center has already received more calls this year seeking help from teens who have overdosed on prescription drugs than it did throughout 2012.
Senator Chuck Schumer was in Salina on Monday to promote drug take-back programs.
"We're doing all kinds of things to go after this prescription drug scourge. We're raising the penalties at the state and local level, we have a registry that is effective here in the State so people can't take one prescription and go from drug store to drug store,” said Senator Chuck Schumer.
There's a drop off area at most pharmacies, but right now that's just so you can get your prescription filled. The plan is to allow pharmacies to take back medications whenever they want to take them.
"It would certainly give us the flexibility to do it whenever the community needs it. Right now we do a monthly non-controlled take back, we could certainly offer a full take back at least once a month if not more,” said Mike Duteau.
The Governor signed a law in New York State a month ago to allow for more drug take backs than the currently sanctioned two per year.
The DEA, though, has yet to sign off on it, despite the fact that Congress gave them the ability to do so three years ago.
Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick is also a proponent of such programs.
"Makes absolutely perfect sense. DEA, I've talked to some people, their resistance is sometimes financial, sometimes it's a turf thing, sometimes it's a control thing, those things can all be worked out,” Fitzpatrick said.
" DEA…I have a little weight with them. I'm on the committee that oversees them. When I ask for something I've usually found some cooperation,” Schumer said.
The Senator is also calling on the DEA to establish a drug buy back program to give people an extra incentive to turn in their unused medications.
Saturday’s national take-back program runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
More information on the program can be found on the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control website