DEA Proposes Rules for Prescription Drug Return

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With the rise of prescription drug abuse, authorities have been scrambling to cut off supply. Unlike illegal drugs that are smuggled into the country or manufactured in secret labs, these substances were once legal, made and distributed by a well-regulated system. The weak point is when prescription drugs are passed into the street market, and the DEA has proposed regulations to help combat this.

More than six million Americans abuse Rx drugs

According to their press release, more than six million Americans abuse prescription drugs. Many of these drugs are diverted from legitimate uses. For example, more than 70 percent of people abusing prescription pain relievers get them from friends or relatives. Some of these are outright thefts from medicine cabinets, where the original patient hangs onto a medication after it is no longer needed.

Collecting expired or unwanted medications

Getting these expired or unwanted medications out of circulation has been the target of several programs – programs that tell the public to turn in drugs to law enforcement or the local pharmacy. But until now, there’s been a problem with licensed businesses taking narcotics back. The DEA had no mechanism for a pharmacy to accept narcotics and other controlled substances from the public.

Inventory on narcotics is tightly controlled. A pharmacy has to account for every pill in stock and document destruction or a return of product to suppliers. Not doing so can get a DEA-issued controlled-substance license revoked. Pharmacists were caught between wanting to help patients by disposing of medications properly and the previous DEA rules that forbid handling narcotics without a paper trail. With these new rules, pharmacists are freed from this regulatory glitch.

The regulations would:

  • - Continue to allow law enforcement agencies to voluntarily conduct take-back events, administer mail-back programs, and maintain collection boxes.
  • - Allow authorized manufacturers, distributors, reverse distributors, and retail pharmacies to voluntarily administer mail-back programs and maintain collection boxes.
  • - Allow authorized retail pharmacies to voluntarily maintain collection boxes at long-term care facilities.

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