WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. - The abuse of prescription drugs is getting worse and can be deadly, that's why Sen. Charles Schumer is calling for the federal government to fund a drug buyback program.
Chances are you probably have a few old bottles of prescription pills in your medicine cabinet and to try to prevent the drugs from falling into the wrong hands. To help those with that issue the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has something called drug take back programs.
"The take backs are few and far between, when they happen they're very successful," Schumer said at Family Medical Pharmacy in Williamsville.
Schumer wants to boost drug take back accessibility nationwide by allowing pharmacies to hold take backs whenever they want. He takes the plan a step further and says people should get a shopper's card for the drugs they bring in.
This is similar to the gun buyback program, where if you have a gun you want to get rid of, you can turn it in for reimbursement, no questions asked and the money comes from cash that's seized in drug raids.
Schumer says that the state would have to approve and monitor that the pharmacies are appropriately discarding the unwanted pills.
Schumer says in 2011 there were 2,300 abuse cases across WNY and that 1,300 of them were in Erie County. He says law enforcement numbers show that the statistics are rising.
Drug give back programs are usually held at police stations and many law enforcement officials are supportive of creating more locations to drop off drugs. But some, like Erie County sheriff Tim Howard, have problems with the proposal.
"I'm thinking it's getting sadder and sadder that we're willing to spend federal money or government money to encourage people to be responsible," he said.
The state legislature has passed a law to allow pharmacies to take prescription pills, but federal law trumps state law. It comes down to the DEA changing its policy to expand the drug take back program.
Our calls to the DEA about changing their regulations went unanswered. The DEA stresses that if you have unwanted pills to discard them during a national take back initiative.
This Saturday take back events are being held across the country. You can find more information about the events from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.