Gov. Maggie Hassan signs law allowing pharmacies to run drug-take back boxes

Monitor staff
Published: 6/8/2016 12:39:26 AM

People in New Hampshire will soon be able to dispose of unused prescription drugs in more locations.

The law, signed by Gov. Maggie Hassan on Tuesday, allows pharmacies to set up drug take-back programs, so long as they comply with federal regulations. Currently, only government entities or those overseen by law enforcement agencies can run the take-back programs. The new state law takes effect in 60 days.

“Drug take-back programs can help promote the proper disposal of expired, unused or unwanted medicine, and this bipartisan bill will give Granite Staters more options to safely dispose of addictive prescription opioids,” Hassan said in a statement.

The move is the latest of several that seek to bring pharmacies into the state’s fight against the ongoing opioid crisis. New Hampshire passed a law last year that allows pharmacies to dispense the overdose-reversal drug known as Narcan. The executive director of the state’s Board of Pharmacy did not return a request for comment.

The Concord Police Department recently set up a permanent drug take-back box in its lobby, which is open 24 hours a day. At least 40 other police departments across the state have installed similar prescription drug take-back boxes, including those in Franklin and Laconia. Officials warn residents not to flush the pills down the drain because they can contaminate the environment or water supply. A 2010 test of Merrimack River water detected very low levels of prescription drugs, from anti-depressents to cholestoral drugs.

“When you look low enough, you will see trace levels of various contaminants people use; personal care products, or pharmaceuticals,” said Brandon Kernen, of the Department of Environmental Resources. “They don’t disappear once you flush.” The Concord Police Department incinerates drugs that are dropped off at the take-back box.

Many drug users in New Hampshire say they became addicted to opioids, or heroin, after being prescribed painkillers by a medical professionals. The state has made moves this year to curb over-prescribing. Hassan signed another bill into law Tuesday that requires state medical boards to update their opioid prescribing rules. Hassan is expected to soon sign a bill that funds upgrades to the state’s prescription drug monitoring program, meant to prevent doctor shopping.

Republican Sen. Nancy Stiles of Hampton applauded the legislation in a statement. “These measures will strengthen our goal for addiction prevention and have a strong effect in helping to end the opioid and heroin crisis in our state.”

For a list of drug take-back locations or information about how to properly dispose of pharmaceuticals, visit .

(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or at

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