DEA final rule

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) published its final rule on September 9, 2014 expanding how controlled substances can be collected from residents. The final rule expands methods of disposal that are expected to benefit the public by decreasing the supply of controlled substances available for misuse, abuse and to protect the environment.

Protocols for return of controlled substances

The final rule defines protocols for the return of unwanted controlled substances for disposal. The rule allows unwanted controlled substances from:

* any person the drug is prescribed to;

* any member of the person’s household who has a prescribed drug (including pets); and

* individuals lawfully entitled to dispose of a deceased person’s property.

Options for collection included in the new rule

Expanded options for collecting controlled substances from individuals and their family members for safe destruction will be more convenient for residents. Collection options for secure medicine return programs now include:

Collection locations (permanent drop-boxes) and mail-back programs
Operated by authorized drug manufacturers, distributors, reverse distributors, retail pharmacies, hospitals/clinics with an on-site pharmacy, narcotic treatment centers, or law enforcement agencies.

Take-back events
Conducted by law enforcement agencies only.

Permanent drop-boxes at long-term care facilities
Operated by an authorized retail pharmacy or by an authorized hospital/clinic with an on-site pharmacy.

Collection of controlled substances

Although the rule does not require pharmacies and law enforcement agencies to establish a medicine return location, those who would like to become an authorized collector will be able to collect both controlled and non-controlled substances.

Residential medicines, including controlled substances, collected by any of these collection methods may be co-mingled with other consumer medications. Consumers can place all leftover medicines into one collection box or one mail-back envelope without having to identify and separate different medications.

All collection methods must be conducted under specific security protocols that ensure safe handling of collected medicines to prevent diversion.

Final destruction

The final rule also makes it simpler for authorized collectors to send drugs for final destruction through existing providers of pharmaceutical waste disposal.

The rule does not limit the specific destruction method
The rule requires that drugs must be rendered non-retrievable.

Flushing and trash disposal does not meet the standard
The DEA reiterated in the publication of the final rule that flushing and trash disposal do not meet the non-retrievable standard.

Disposal method compliance
Disposal method must comply with federal, tribal, state, local laws.

King County Secure Medicine Return Regulations

The Secure Medicine Return Regulations were passed by the King County Board of Health in June, 2013 to create a robust medicine collection system for King County residents.  DEA’s final rule on secure and responsible drug disposal provides an opportunity to expand the number of potential collection locations available in King County that is compatible with King County’s regulations.


Link to DEA final rule: