The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has just announced new regulations for the disposal of controlled substances that make it possible for retail pharmacies to collect pharmaceuticals, including controlled substances. The long-awaited policy change, which goes into effect Oct. 9, means there could soon be many more locations—and more convenient ones at that—for you to dispose of your unwanted medicines. 
Permanent and single-day collection programs have been a reality in many communities across the country for years. But these programs were led by city, county, and state police departments, the only groups allowed to accept controlled substances from those looking to properly dispose of the unused medicines. This limited the number of available programs and often made it difficult for the public to properly dispose of their pharmaceuticals conveniently.
Law enforcement agencies will continue to manage take-back programs under the new regulations. But they can now be joined by manufacturers, distributors, reverse distributors, and retail pharmacies.
The new law does not create new collection programs, and it doesn’t require others to either. The amendment to the Controlled Substances Act simply makes room for groups outside law enforcement to voluntarily establish mail-back programs or maintain collection boxes. Retail pharmacies also have the option of administering collection programs at long-term care facilities.
We are very happy that the regulations are finally out. But the work around here will continue much as it has for the last seven years. Our pollution prevention team will continue to educate the public on the proper use, storage, and disposal of PPCPs. And they are still working closely with communities to set up legal, sustainable take-back programs.  
Skip to content