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Minn. legislators expected to finish final part of $46B budget; tax cuts, bonding bill included

OTHER OPINION: Prescriptions

On Sept. 13 of last year, our Opinions Page featured an editorial about the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010. This bill, co-authored by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, addressed the growing problem of prescription drug abuse.

During a visit to Rochester last fall, Klobuchar pointed out that people have few good options when they want to dispose of expired or unused prescription drugs. Pharmacies can’t accept them. Flushing them, as once was common, can affect water quality. Ditto for putting them into the garbage and sending them off to a landfill.

Doing nothing, Klobuchar told us, was even more dangerous, because hanging on to old pills invites theft and abuse. The Office of National Drug Control Policy estimates that more than 20 million teenagers were abusing some form of prescription drugs. Klobuchar’s bill was supposed to make it easier for people to get rid of their unneeded medications in a safe, responsible way that protected the environment and made sure the drugs didn’t end up in the wrong hands.

We endorsed Klobuchar’s bill and concluded our editorial with this paragraph: “We hope Klobuchar’s bill finds its way to President Obama’s desk, where he’d almost certainly sign it. If that happens, we also hope that there are many places where people can do the right thing with their unused drugs, without much inconvenience. History tells us that if people have to make a special trip across town to properly dispose of something, they’ll be tempted to simply dump it instead — or do nothing at all.”

One of our predictions came true. Klobuchar’s bill made it to President Obama’s desk, and he signed it into law. As for our comment about people not going out of their way to do the right thing — well, that statement was proven wrong recently, as people lined up at the Mayo Clinic’s Gonda Building to unload their unwanted prescription medications during National Drug Take-Back Day.