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DEA Allows Return of Unused Prescriptions to Pharmacies

September 9, 2014
Reversal of previous policy, which put onus on patient to dispose of unused controlled substances.

Starting October 9, 2014, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has announced that they will allow consumers to drop-off unused prescription medications like controlled substances, including opioid, to their local pharmacies.

The DEA took the action to try to reduce the amount unused medications that accumulate in patient’s homes. Surveys have shown that more than 70% of teenagers say it is easy to get prescription medications from their parents’ medicine cabinets. Under the new regulation, patients and their relatives will be allowed to mail unused prescription drugs to an authorized collector using packages made available at pharmacies and other locations, like libraries and senior centers.

"The sooner we get those unused medications out of the home and medicine cabinets, the better and safer for everyone,” Carmen A. Catizone, executive director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy told The New York Times.

“Independent community pharmacists will review the DEA policy and decide which, if any, of the allowed disposal options for controlled substances are feasible at their particular pharmacy, taking into account the community in which they practice," noted B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association. "One size does not fit all, so we appreciate the DEA outlining several allowable disposal options."

Last updated on: July 28, 2015