Bill addressing dangers lurking in home medicine cabinets advances to Governer’s desk

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A bill requiring pharmacists to educate their patients on the safe disposal of unused, unwanted or expired drugs and needles was approved by the Assembly today. Assemblymen Sean Kean and Edward Thomson sponsor the bill (S3240) which cleared the Senate last month and now moves to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk for consideration.

One of three American homes have forgotten prescriptions in the bathroom cabinets. Often, the medicine includes addictive opioids.

“This is an eye-opener that unfortunately isn’t being recognized like it should,” said Kean (R-Monmouth). “Sometimes the most dangerous drugs are hiding in our medicine cabinets. It is dangerous to let them fall into the wrong hands or end up in our environment.”

Under the bill, pharmacists must provide instructions that also warn patients of the potential risks if the medication is not discarded safely. They must also make available a deactivation product that can neutralize 98 percent of drugs.

The bill was named after Charlie Van Tassel, who died at 33 years old after battling addiction for many years.

“Pharmacists can provide valuable education so that their patients don’t become part of, or contribute to, unsettling statistics,” said Thomson (R-Monmouth). “We all have to do a lot more to help people like Charlie who are in a fight to stay sober.”

More than 70 percent of people abusing opioids for nonmedical reasons get them from family or friends according to the government’s National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health. Fifty-five percent obtained the drugs for free, another 11 percent bought them, and 5 percent got them without asking.