A day does not go by without pharmacists, like most Americans, hearing about the overwhelming prescription opioid epidemic.
A day does not go by without pharmacists, like most Americans, hearing about the overwhelming prescription opioid epidemic. In the past, when patients or visitors asked hospital personnel how to dispose of their unused or expired drugs, the answer included flushing them or mixing them with coffee grounds and throwing them out. However, due to the passage of the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010,1 implemented by the DEA’s Final Rule on Disposal of Controlled Substances released on September 9, 2014,2 there now are solutions that provide a safe way to prevent opioid diversion and are better for the environment.
Hospitals with onsite pharmacies are one of several types of health care institutions authorized by the DEA to collect controlled and noncontrolled drugs from consumers through onsite kiosks. However, due to the need to comply with the regulations, plan the logistics, and market the program to the community, hospitals have asked questions such as, “How do we comply with the DEA?” “Where does a hospital get a kiosk?” “How does it get emptied?” “How are the collected drugs transported and destroyed?”
The information below can assist with answering these and other questions, as well as outline the steps to implementing a drug collection program:
The DEA’s Drug Disposal website is a comprehensive resource, providing easy access to register as a collector, FAQs, industry-specific factsheets, and a “wastage” letter clarifying the disposal of pharmaceutical wastage.3,4 The final rule does not change the way inventory controlled substances or drug wastage are accounted for and disposed; however, the DEA letter4 clarifies that practitioners shall continue to record the destruction of medication wastage in accordance with 21 CFR§1304.22(c). The letter emphasizes the following:
Hospital pharmacists play a major role in educating hospital personnel, patients, and visitors on safe management of pharmaceuticals. Hospitals that provide a proper and compliant pharmaceutical collection and destruction program participate in the prevention of drug misuse, which has the potential to reduce hospital visits and deaths in the communities that they serve.
Jan Harris, MPH, BSDH, is director, Environmental, Health and Safety at Sharps Compliance, Inc.Robin Watson, MPH, MS, is director of Client Services at Sharps Compliance, Inc.Wanda Lingner, RN, BSN, is clinical specialist — Strategic Regulatory Customer Compliance at Sharps Compliance, Inc.