Colorado Medical Society

DEA releases new rules that create secure prescription drug disposal options

Tuesday, October 07, 2014 08:50 AM

The U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued a final rule that authorizes the DEA to establish methods to transfer unused or unwanted pharmaceutical controlled substances to authorized collectors for the purpose of disposal. It also permits long-term-care facilities to do the same on behalf of residents or former residents of their facilities. The rule takes effect Oct. 9.

The DEA’s goal is to expand the options available to safely and securely dispose of potentially dangerous prescription medications on a routine basis.

Prior to the passage of the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act, the Controlled Substances Act made no legal provisions for patients to rid themselves of unwanted pharmaceutical controlled substances except to give them to law enforcement. It banned pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and hospitals from accepting them. Most people flushed their unused drugs down the toilet, threw them in the trash, or kept them in the household medicine cabinet, which made them susceptible to accidental ingestion, theft, misuse, and abuse.

Nearly 110 Americans die every day from drug-related overdoses, and about half of those overdoses are related to opioids. More than two-thirds (70 percent) of people who misuse prescription painkillers for the first time report obtaining the drugs from friends or relatives, including from the home medicine cabinet.