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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Pharmacies Can Now Collect Unused Prescription Drugs

The effectiveness of prescription drug “take back” days, which happen twice a year in the United States, has prompted officials to allow pharmacies to receive unused prescription narcotics. Until now, pharmacies were not allowed to accept unused opioid painkillers, according to The New York Times.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's (DEA) new regulations are designed to give people more options in the fight to curb the prescription drug epidemic. “These new regulations will expand the public’s options to safely and responsibly dispose of unused or unwanted medications,” DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart said in a news release. “The new rules will allow for around-the-clock, simple solutions to this ongoing problem. Now everyone can easily play a part in reducing the availability of these potentially dangerous drugs.”

People with unused prescription narcotics will be allowed to mail unused prescription medications to authorized collectors, using packages that will be available at pharmacies and locations including senior centers and libraries, The New York Times reports.

In the last four years, prescription drug “take-back” collected 4.1 million pounds of prescription drugs, according to the DEA. The agency pointed out that during that time period; about 3.9 billion prescriptions were filled. “They only removed an infinitesimal fraction of the reservoir of unused drugs that are out there,” said Dr. Nathaniel Katz of Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, who studies opioid abuse. “It’s like trying to eliminate malaria in Africa by killing a dozen mosquitoes.”

The Controlled Substances Act required patients to dispose of their unused drugs themselves or give them to law enforcement officials at national “take-back” events. The new ruling will surely aid in the fight to keep unused drugs out of the wrong hands.

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