Pharmacy Medication Drug Take-Back Program

Pharmacy Medication Drug Take-Back Program:

As most of us know, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulations now allow retail pharmacies, among others, to collect controlled and non-controlled pharmaceutical drugs and medications from consumers by using take-back programs. The DEA even has a great tool on it’s website that allows visitors to search for the nearest participating Pharmacy by using their zip-code:
https://apps.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/pubdispsearch/spring/main?execution=e1s1

Deaths due to drug overdoses are now the leading cause of “non-disease” deaths  in the United States according to 2015 statistics released by the DEA. This places drug overdose deaths ahead of car accidents, guns and firearms and all other “injury deaths”. It is, however, important to note that alcoholism and drug addiction are recognized as a disease by the American Medical Association since 1956, therefor eliminating the controversial topic of addiction being a “moral” issue. According to statistics (http://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/0401/p1529.html), 10% of Americans abuse drugs/alcohol and up to 20% of all patients treated by doctors have some sort of substance abuse problem (not counting caffiene or nicotine). The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) estimates that alcohol and drug abuse cause 100,000 deaths annually with an associated cost of over $100 billion to the US economy (https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/).

Pennsylvania State Board of Pharmacy Asks For Help
In December the Pennsylvania State Board of Pharmacy sent an email to all Registered Pharmacists in their state that is worth talking about. It was noted (again from the DEA statistics released in 2015) that over 3,500 Pennsylvanians died of drug overdoses. To fight this opioid crisis, the Board made a strong case that all healthcare professionals need to increase our efforts on informing the public on how to prevent and treat the disease of addiction. Additionally, it was duly noted that the installation of drug take-back boxes is one way Pharmacies in particular can fight against the opioid crisis.

The Problem With the Pharmacy Medication Drug Take-Back Program

As most Pharmacists see it, the problem is two-fold:
1. The participation by a Pharmacy is not mandatory in all states. Perhaps it should be, but the issue of cost is a major concern. In those states considering legislation mandating take-back programs in all pharmacies, resistance from state pharmacy organizations point out that the pharmacies should not be responsible for the program costs. One California county actually passed legislation placing the costs on the drug manufacturers. However, the pharmaceutical industry challenged the law and it was struck down by a federal court of appeals. Everyone agrees that the public needs the way to safely dispose of medications, but no-one can agree on who should pay for it. Until this issue is addressed, the number of Pharmacies participating in the program will be very limited.
2. Local police and law enforcement facilities in Pennsylvania also have medication drug take-back boxes. There are more than 500 such drug take-back boxes located in police stations around the state. It is simply more convenient for Pharmacies to direct patients to the local police and law enforcement facilities than to have to handle the return of the unwanted, unused or expired drugs themselves (and the paperwork involved).

What Pennsylvania Asked Pharmacies To Do


– Register with the DEA as an authorized collector and purchase a safe drug take-back box for your location.
– Stock and/or supply drug deactivation packets such as the Deterra Drug Deactivation System or Disposa-Script to make available to your customers.

Whatever the obstacles, the intent of the Pharmacy Medication Drug Take-Back Program is to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible way for consumers to get rid of  their unwanted, unused or expired drugs while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications. It is the responsibility of all Healthcare professionals to participate as best they can in helping fight the “opioid crisis” that is hurting our nation and society.

As always, HCC is here to help you in any way that we can. Contact us online or call us today at 800-642-1652 to discuss how we can help you (or just if you’d like to talk about any idea that you may have regarding Pharmacy!). Healthcare Consultants is a nationally renowned full service Pharmacy staffing and consulting firm that has been in business for over 27 years. Owned, managed and staffed by full-time in-house Pharmacists, HCC offers a full range of Pharmacy Staffing & Placement, plus is noted for our Pharmacy Consulting Services that other firms simply cannot offer.


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