House Advances Maher Bill to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse, Protect Drinking Water
HARRISBURG – On Monday, the House unanimously approved legislation, sponsored by Rep. John Maher (R-Allegheny/Washington), which aims to reduce prescription drug abuse and ensure the safety of Pennsylvania’s drinking water by providing for the proper disposal of unused prescription and over-the-counter medications.

“Unused prescription drugs that stack up in medicine cabinets are a dangerous nuisance that can pave a path to drug abuse. But, conveniently disposing of old prescriptions safely has been a challenge. Currently, the law generally prohibits the common sense approach of returning drugs where they came from,” Maher explained.

Under House Bill 1737, safe drug disposal will be as close as the local hospital, nursing home or pharmacy.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2015, nearly 4 billion prescriptions were filled in the United States. It is estimated that as much as one third of dispensed medication goes unused and is subsequently dumped in the trash or flushed down the toilet.

Drugs that are turned in will be destroyed in industrial furnaces instead of the frequent household solution of flushing drugs down toilets. Water systems that provide drinking water are not designed to detect or eliminate contamination from unwanted drugs. A 2008 Associated Press investigation found that at least 46 million Americans consume water contaminated with prescription and over-the-counter drugs, which the AP asserts is a gross undercount as most cities and water suppliers do not test for it. Trace amounts of these drugs threaten human health, aquatic life and animals in the wild.

“With prescription drug abuse as the leading cause of accidental death in this country, there is growing emphasis on eliminating unused or expired prescription and over-the-counter medications in our homes. However, it is important to dispose of these drugs properly,” said Maher.

House Bill 1737 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Representative John Maher
40th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Donna Pinkham
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