U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced bipartisan legislation today with Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) to provide patients with safe and responsible ways to dispose of unused controlled substances.

Patients currently seeking to reduce the amount of expired or otherwise unwanted prescription drugs in their homes have few disposal options, increasing the risk that teenagers will gain access to them. The Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 seeks to reduce that risk by permitting individuals and long-term care facilities to deliver unused drugs for safe disposal, and promoting the development and expansion of drug take-back programs.

“Parents know that keeping unwanted prescription drugs in their homes increases the risk that young people will find them, but current law provides them with few alternatives,” Klobuchar said. “By making it easier for people to dispose of controlled substances they no longer need, we reduce teens’ access to these drugs and help curb teen drug abuse.”

“Abuse of prescription medications is a serious problem. But because of overly restrictive federal laws, most people currently lack a safe option for disposing of dangerous medications. This legislation writes some common sense back into the law by allowing responsible drug take-back programs to accept any person’s unused or unwanted medications,” said Cornyn.

“The abuse of prescription narcotics such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives is currently the fastest growing drug abuse trend in the country,” Grassley said. “Many legitimate users of these drugs often do not finish their prescriptions, and, as a result, these drugs remain in the family medicine cabinet for months or years because people forget about them or do not know how to properly dispose of them. It’s important that we encourage people to dispose of their old or unwanted medicines so that these drugs don’t fall into the wrong hands.”

“It’s critical that we treat prescription drug abuse like the dangerous epidemic it is,” Brown said. “This legislation will make it easier for parents and facilities to dispose of controlled substances before they are abused. It is an important step in our fight against prescription drug abuse.”

Up to 17 percent of prescribed medication goes unused, and if improperly disposed, may contribute to drug diversion and environmental problems. The bill would allow consumers to give controlled substances to specially designated individuals for disposal, such as law enforcement officials or pharmacists. It also would allow long-term care facilities to dispose of certain prescription drugs on behalf of their residents.

Keeping outdated prescription drugs in the home leaves drugs readily accessible to children and teens. Teenagers now abuse prescription drugs more than any other illegal drug except for marijuana, and the majority of teens who abuse these drugs get them for free, usually from friends and relatives and often without their knowledge.