April 26th is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. As the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) prepares for the day that allows community pharmacies to collect controlled substances, the group representing independent pharmacists says its members are seeking a greater role in fighting prescription drug abuse and want to contribute to the cause all year long.
In many cases, unwanted medications come from excess mail-order prescriptions that are auto-shipped to patients, whether they want the medication or not. Sometimes people are simply over-prescribed. In this case, many are concerned that unused drugs could end up in the wrong hands or in the water supply. To prevent teen misuse or the poisoning of a young child, those who are prescribed are encouraged to be aware of their medication inventory and properly dispose of any unused or unwanted medications.
Currently, DEA regulations do not allow independent pharmacies to accept unwanted or expired controlled substances, but the agency is working to change those rules and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) supports those changes, according to Carolyn C. Ha, PharmD, NCPA’s Director of Professional Affairs and Long-Term Care. Among the medications that cannot be returned to a pharmacist are opioid painkillers such as oxycodone or hydrocodone, stimulants such as Adderall or Ritalin, or benzodiazepines like Valium or Xanax.
The DEA is in the process of proposing new regulations to give the public more options for responsibly disposing medications, such as painkillers and sedatives. Under these new rules, the DEA hopes to reduce to amount of highly abused prescription drugs on the streets. The DEA proposes that law enforcement agencies and pharmacies serve as collection hubs for certain medications. The agency has also suggested a mail-back program to safely dispose of the drugs.
Under this proposal, for the first time, groups outside of law enforcement would be allowed to receive unwanted drugs for disposal. The DEA also recommends the continued use of prescription drug “take-back” events.
The pharmacies that are permitted to collect controlled substances will be given specific guidance about safety measures that need to be in place to ensure the security of the prescriptions. “Pharmacies are held to extremely tight regulatory controls regarding dispensing medications, so we think it’s a natural fit that we should be able to take them back as well,” said Ha.
To find the community pharmacy nearest you that collects medications, visit this site and click on the “Pharmacy Locator” tab on the right side of the page.