Prescription Drug Disposal May Be Easier Under New DEA Policy

By Admin on September 08, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A new effort by federal law enforcement to combat prescription drug abuse may make it easier for consumers to get rid of their old meds.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that in order to combat the "urgent and growing threat" that prescription drug addiction poses to the nation, a new Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) policy would allow hospitals and pharmacies to act as "drop-off sites" for unused prescription drugs. The DEA has historically organized collection of leftover prescription meds, but this new policy will make it even easier for these drugs to be tossed.

How does this new federal policy impact your overcrowded medicine cabinet?

Serious Attention Paid to Rx Problem

In a video message, Attorney General Holder noted that more than half of the unintentional overdoses in this country were caused by prescription drugs. He continued by stating that nearly "four in 10 teens who have misused or abused a prescription drug have obtained it from their parents' medicine cabinet."

That number may sound surprising, but's own surveys have found that at least one in four Americans admits to abusing prescription drugs. And a large part of that abuse lies in giving away meds instead of disposing them properly.

Building on Current Policy

To answer this serious problem, the DEA's new policy -- which would implement the policy changes enacted in the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 -- will allow "pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, and other authorized collectors" to take old prescription drugs from patients.

This would build on existing efforts by the DEA to take back drugs as part of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day -- a semi-annual event where collection sites would serve as safe places to dispose of unused prescription drugs. The next Take-Back Day is in a few weeks, but if this regulation is successful, consumers will be able to safely "take-back" their prescription drugs year-round. The DOJ reports that consumers will be able to "mail in" old meds to authorized collectors, and long-term care facilities (e.g., nursing homes) will be able to collect these unused prescription drugs from residents for disposal.

If you have prescription drugs you'd like to safely dispose of, use the DEA's online service to locate a collection site near you.

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