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 Why do you have unwanted or outdated controlled substances in your
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outdated pharmaceuticals, including controlled substances?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
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
9. If you participated in a take-back program, was a law enforcement agency
10. If you participated in a take-back program, did you encounter any problems?
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 What do you believe is the best method of disposing of unwanted or outdated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
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
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
• Narcotic Treatment Programs
• Reverse Distributors
• State Regulatory Agencies
• All Interested Parties
NCPIE encourages healthcare professionals and community groups to foster patient–professional communication about medicines. However, NCPIE does not supervise or endorse the activities of any group or professional. Discussion and action concerning medicines are solely the responsibility of the patient and their healthcare professionals, and not NCPIE.
Please consult a licensed health care professional with questions or concerns about your medication and/or condition.