NCPA Offers DEA Recommendations to Facilitate Proper Disposal of Unused Controlled Substances

Published Online: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
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Alexandria, Va. February 20, 2013 - The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) has submitted comments to the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) proposed rule for the disposal of unused or expired controlled substances.

Approximately 1,600 independent community pharmacies voluntarily participate in the medication take-back program Dispose My Meds, but are legally prohibited from accepting controlled substances. NCPA's recommendations, if incorporated into the DEA's final regulations, may help facilitate participation by many independent community pharmacies in drug take-back programs that include controlled substances.

"Controlled substances represent a missing link in efforts to adopt a unified approach to the safe disposal of unwanted, unused or expired medications," said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA. "While the occasional medication collection events sponsored by law enforcement are valuable, consumers need broader access to disposal options for controlled substances throughout the year. NCPA's policy prescriptions for the DEA will help ensure security is balanced with flexibility."

Hoey added, "Voluntary drug take-back programs can help address the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse and the contamination of drinking water. We recognize DEA's responsibilities to protecting public health and preventing drug diversion and NCPA's common-sense suggestions are consistent with that mission. We look forward to continuing to work with the agency in a constructive fashion going forward."

NCPA's comments seek to improve the DEA's proposed rules and include the following suggestions:

  • Clarify that retail pharmacies can use their contracted reverse distributors to collect controlled substances for disposal from long-term care (LTC) facilities they service;

  • Reconsider proposed requirements for collection receptacles and pharmacy employees that are impractical and may negatively impact pharmacy workflow; and

  • Work with the long-term care community to develop disposal standards that would enable more LTC facilities to operate disposal systems.

Since inception of the Dispose My Meds program in 2010 by NCPA, independently owned pharmacies have collected more than 50 tons of unused or expired medications. Consumers can find the nearest participating pharmacy at

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