State Reps. Joel Johnson and Jim Ananich have announced there will be a committee hearing this week on a bipartisan plan they introduced to help safely reuse or dispose of unused prescription medication.

The bills, HB 5089 and 5090, are expected to be taken up on Thursday by the Hose Health Policy Committee on the eve of National Drug Take Back Day.

Johnson, a Republican from Clare, said "I am looking forward to seeing these important measures passed. I appreciate the input we've received from St. Mary's of Michigan along with other hospitals and our pharmacists. This bipartisan plan puts unused medication in the hands of people in need while offering consistent and safe methods for disposal."

The legislation is modeled after policies in 39 other states which allows unopened medications, which have never left medical hands, to be donated to participating pharmacies to redistribute them to patients in need or safely dispose of them. The approach has multiple benefits, including great access to critical medications for low-income families, reducing the threat of prescription drug abuse and related crime, and decreasing the amounts of drugs entering our water systems by consumers flushing them or putting into landfills.

Ananich, a Democrat from Flint, said "too many young people in Genesee County are falling victim to prescription drug abuse and too many of our residents fall victims to criminals trying to get their hands on unused medications. Our legislation is a common sense approach to tackling this problem and will have many far-ranging benefits for the health and safety of our community."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared prescription drug abuse as the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, with one of their recent studies finding that poisoning of young people aged 15-19 with prescription drugs as a factor nearly doubling from 200 to 2009. Having safe, convenient methods for handling unused medications would limit the accessibility of potentially harmful drugs in our communities.

To help highlight this important issue, Ananich and Johnson also sponsored HR 235, which was approved last week by the House. It marks April 22-29 "Drug Take Back Awareness Week" in the state of Michigan, which features the fourth annual National Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 28 at locations across Michigan and the United States.

Local participating Take Back agencies can be found at the U.S. Department of Justice's website at