Gong-Gershowitz drug take-back bill passes Illinois House

A bill sponsored by state Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz that will make it easier for people to dispose of pharmaceutical drugs has advanced through the Illinois House of Representatives.

House Bill 1780, which will increase safe and convenient drug take-back locations across the state, passed late last month on a 96-13 vote.

"This legislation will make Illinois a healthier, safer place for our families. Too often, teens and younger children find unused or expired medications, which leads them down the path toward addiction," Gong-Gershowitz, the bill's chief sponsor, stated in a news release.

"Flushing old medication causes serious damage to our community's drinking water, our waterways and wildlife. Illinois families need a safe, convenient way to dispose of their old medications and this bill is designed to accomplish that," Gong-Gershowitz said.

Gong-Gershowitz, a Democrat, represents the 17th District, which includes all or parts of Glenview, Northbrook, Northfield and Wilmette.

House Bill 1780 would address both addiction and polluted drinking water by establishing a statewide drug take-back program funded by drug manufacturers to provide a safe, convenient and environmentally friendly way to dispose of unwanted medications.

Storing unused or expired medicines can lead to accidental poisoning, drug abuse and drug trafficking, the release said. The misuse of opioid prescription drugs leads people to addiction more than any other substance, it said.

In Illinois, the release stated, prescription pain medication overdose deaths doubled between 2013 and 2016, with 1,896 deaths in 2019 alone.

"Proper disposal of prescription drugs will work to protect Illinois' wildlife, waterways and drinking water. We are grateful to Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz for her leadership and to the business community for working to reach agreement on this important policy," Jen Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council, said in the release.

HB 1780 is now in the Senate Assignments committee and will likely be taken up by one of its health committees. Sens. Laura Fine, a Glenview Democrat, and Tony Munoz, a Chicago Democrat, the assistant majority leader, are co-sponsors of the bill in the Senate.

March 25 is the Senate deadline for passing House bills out of committee, with April 1 the deadline to pass the bill, or it returns to the House with an amendment.

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