Senators introduce legislation to help veterans dispose of unwanted opioids


U.S. Sens. Todd Young (R-IN) and Mike Braun (R-IN) have introduced legislation designed to help veterans dispose of unwanted medications safely, easily, and anonymously.

The bill, a companion to a similar bill in the House introduced by Rep. Jim Baird (R-IN), would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to create physical locations in certain VA medical facilities where veterans could dispose of controlled substances.

Called the VA Directly Returning Opioid Prescriptions, or DROP Act, the bill would directly address the epidemic of opioid addiction in veterans. Nearly 50 percent of veterans suffer from chronic pain, and an estimated half of those patients receive at least one prescription for opioids. When compared to the general public, VA patients are seven times more likely to suffer from an opioid use disorder.

“The opioid epidemic continues to impact some of our most vulnerable in the veteran community,” Young said. “The DROP Act will ensure veterans have access to a way to safely and anonymously dispose of unused or unwanted medications. As Congress works with our state and local partners to address the opioid crisis, this bill will help prevent opioids from being abused or ending up in the wrong hands.”

The program is based on a pilot project conducted at Roudebush VAMC in Indianapolis. In that hospital, veterans were able to dispose of more than 450 pounds of medications in six months.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic is at the front of all of our minds, we cannot forget about other crises that continue to ravage our country, such as the opioid abuse and the veterans who are seven times more likely to suffer from an opioid use disorder,” Braun said. “This bill makes it easier for veterans to dispose of unneeded medications and thus helps reduce risk of opioid abuse.”