CHA News Article

New DEA Policy Authorizes Hospitals, Pharmacies to Serve as Authorized Drop-off Sites for Controlled Substances

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has announced a new regulation to implement the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 by expanding the options available to collect controlled substances for the purpose of disposal. The rule, which becomes effective Oct. 9, allows hospitals, pharmacies, clinics and other authorized collectors to serve as authorized drop-off sites for unused prescription drugs and to voluntarily administer mail-back programs. Under the new policy, long-term care facilities will also be able to collect controlled substances turned in by residents of those facilities, and prescription drug users will have permission to directly mail in their unused medications to authorized collectors.

All related activity must be in accordance with the regulation and all other applicable federal, state, tribal and local laws and regulations. The California Department of Public Health’s medical waste program and the California Board of Pharmacy are reviewing the rule to determine any implications for those affected by the regulations in California. CHA will continue to update members as additional information becomes available.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the new changes are intended to protect American families from the increased dangers of prescriptions drug misuse. According to the Department of Justice, in 2011 more than half of the 41,300 unintentional drug overdose deaths in the U.S. involved prescription drugs, and hazardous opioid pain relievers led to about 17,000 of those deaths. The Attorney General noted that nearly four in 10 teens who have misused or abused a prescription drug have obtained it from their parents’ medicine cabinet. For additional information and resources about drug disposal, visit