Senator Schumer Calls for Federal Changes to Get Prescription Drugs Off Streets

Oct 21, 2013

RX Drug take-back events can help reduce abuse
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

Senator Charles Schumer was in Central New York to announce that he’s going to put pressure on federal drug officials to fight prescription drug abuse by making it easier to get medications out of reach.  He says federal regulations are hurting efforts to curb skyrocketing incidents of prescription drug abuse.  

Schumer stopped by Kinney Drugs pharmacy in Liverpool Monday where he urged the Drug enforcement administration to lift its regulations and allow pharmacies and community groups to sponsor drug take-back programs in New York. Schumer says prescription drug abuse has the potential to be worse than cocaine and heroin combined.

When crack reared its ugly head, our society back in the late 80s and early 90s, didn’t pay enough attention.  It got its tentacles into our society and it took a decade to rip them out.  We don’t want that to happen with prescription drug abuse, which is relatively new.  That’s why we’re going after it in many, many different ways.

Schumer also says crimes involving robberies to get prescription drugs are starting to spread. 

Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick remembers when his eyes were opened to the prevalence of medications getting into the wrong hands.


Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick (at podium) joined Senator Chuck Schumer in call for changing DEA rules on prescription drug take-backs.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

We had a case about two years ago here in Syracuse.  I’m a father; the Senator’s a father.  What I found out was that teenagers were going into parents’ medicine cabinet taking drugs that they didn’t even know what they were, and they’d get a big bowl at a party and mix them up. Then everybody would take them.  I heard that and I was in disbelief.

There is already a law in New York State that allows pharmacies to conduct drug take-back programs, but Schumer says the D-E-A has prevented the programs from starting because of regulations.  Any take-backs need to be sanctioned by and run through the DEA, which has limited them.

Many pharmacies want to take part in the drug take-back programs ‘cause they’re good citizens.  Everyone trusts their pharmacist.  You tell your pharmacist things you wouldn’t tell your neighbors, involves your health.  You ask them questions and you develop a bond and you develop trust. And that’s why pharmacies are the ideal place for these take-back programs

Schumer also wants the D-E-A to establish a drug buyback program with the millions of dollars received from narcotics forfeitures.


The Upstate Poison Center reports prescription drug abuse is up by more than 150 percent with a reported 3103 cases reported in 2011 in Central New York.

Onondaga County has 5 initiatives to combat prescription drug abuse, as well as alcohol and other drugs, according to the Prevention Network.

  • Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force – including police, health, social services, prevention agencies and others.
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Elimination Team – addressing Onondaga County’s high incidence of neonatal substance problems (28/1000 births)
  • Syracuse Healthy Start: Perinatal Substance Abuse – addressing substance abuse, including tobacco, alcohol and drugs, having poor health outcomes for mothers and babies.
  • Fetal Alcohol Disorders
  • Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods