DEA Seeks Input on Safe Disposal of Dispensed Controlled Substances

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is soliciting information on the disposal of controlled substances dispensed to individual patients as well as to long-term care facilities. DEA is seeking options for the safe and responsible disposal of dispensed controlled substances in a manner consistent with the Controlled Substances Act and its implementing regulations. Currently, prescription drug take- back programs are not permitted to accept controlled substances. DEA is accepting comments on this issue through March 23, 2009. More information is available in the Federal Register, including the following set of questions about which the agency wishes to hear from patients or family members of patients who possess controlled substances which have been legally dispensed: 1. Can you distinguish a controlled substance from a non-controlled substance? 2. Why do you have unwanted or outdated controlled substances in your possession? 3. What method, if any, do you currently use to dispose of your unwanted or outdated pharmaceuticals, including controlled substances? 4. Are you willing to seek locations outside of your home to dispose of unwanted pharmaceuticals? 5. Does your community, county, or State have laws, regulations, or policies in place that prohibit medications, including controlled substances, from being flushed or placed in the garbage? 6. Does your community have takeback programs during which you can provide pharmaceuticals to an entity for disposal? If so, do you know whether these programs accept controlled substances? 7. If your community has take-back programs, who sponsors the program? 8. If you participated in a take-back program, please describe how the program worked. 9. If you participated in a take-back program, was a law enforcement agency involved? 10. If you participated in a take-back program, did you encounter any problems? Please explain. 11. What do you believe is the best method of disposing of unwanted or outdated pharmaceuticals, including controlled substances dispensed to ultimate users? 12. Would you be willing to pay a fee to have your medication disposed of in a manner that minimizes the possibility of the diversion of legally obtained controlled substance medications for illegal purposes and is environmentally safe? If so, how much would you be willing to pay? 13. Would you consider using a postage paid mailing container to dispose of unwanted medications? 14. Where would you be willing to go to obtain such a postage paid mailing container (e.g., local pharmacy, police department, take-back event)? 15. Would you be willing to pay the postage on a mailing container used to ship controlled substances and other pharmaceuticals to another location for disposal? If so, how much would you be willing to pay? 16. Would you consider the use of a mailing container more convenient or less convenient than taking unwanted controlled substances to a pharmacy or to a take-back event? 17. What other means of disposal would you consider convenient? Other stakeholders for which DEA poses specific questions include: • State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies & Publicly Owned Treatment Works • Concerned Interest Groups • Long Term Care Facilities • Hospices and In-Home Care Groups • Pharmacies • Narcotic Treatment Programs • Reverse Distributors • State Regulatory Agencies • All Interested Parties