Environmental Protection

Congress Approves Prescription Drug Disposal Law

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives has cleared for the President’s signature The Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act (pdf), legislation backed by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) that could improve and encourage voluntary prescription drug disposal programs.

The legislation authorizes the U.S. Attorney General to issue new regulations (under the Controlled Substances Act) that could allow community pharmacies offering disposal programs to accept controlled substances, which presently can only be turned in to law enforcement officials. According to the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, for young people ages 12-17, prescription drugs have become the second most abused illegal drug (behind marijuana) with controlled substances playing a major role.

Passing the legislation took years of effort, especially on the part of U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) and U.S. Reps. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), Jim Moran (D-Va.), Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Bart Stupak (D-Mich.). NCPA supported lawmakers throughout the process by providing the community pharmacists’ perspective.

“Prescription drug abuse is at epic proportions in many parts of the country and community pharmacists are uniquely positioned to help Americans properly dispose of their expired and unused prescription drugs,” said Douglas Hoey, RPh, NCP acting executive vice president and CEO. “We commend members of Congress from both parties for coming together to approve this important legislation.

“Just this past weekend, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration held a national ‘Take-Back’ Day, which had the support of NCPA,” Hoey added. “We commend the DEA for its efforts, but believe consumers need continued, ongoing access to convenient disposal locations. Programs like Dispose My Meds also offer another avenue to allow community pharmacists to promote proper adherence to the patient’s prescription medication regimen.”

Leftover prescription drugs from family medicine cabinets create the potential for misuse or accidental ingestion by children or pets. In addition, traces of prescription drugs have been found in America’s drinking water when they were discarded in environmentally unfriendly ways.

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