Controlled substance disposal a natural for community pharmacies

May 3, 2011

The Drug Enforcement Agency should consider community pharmacies as disposal locations for controlled substances, urged new comments submitted to Congress by the National Community Pharmacists Association.

The Drug Enforcement Agency should consider community pharmacies as disposal locations for controlled substances, urged new comments submitted to Congress by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).

"Consumer surveys demonstrate that local pharmacies are the most convenient locations where consumers seek to return unused or expired medicines," said an NCPA statement submitted to a recent U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee. At present, pharmacists participating in NCPA's "Dispose My Meds" program are not allowed to take back controlled substances.

The more than 1,200 community pharmacies voluntarily participating in NCPA's Dispose My Meds collection program have taken in more than 25,000 pounds of unused or expired non-controlled medications in the past year.

Community pharmacists also want to help curb the drug diversion problem. Illegal Internet pharmacies, mail-order pharmacies, and programs that automatically ship medications to patient homes could be contributing to illegal drug stockpiling, argued NCPA. "Many of these [illegal] websites dispense medications without a valid prescription … Rogue, illegitimate drug trafficking operations are anathemas to legitimate independent community pharmacies," NCPA said.

According to NCPA, the role of pharmacists in drug diversion and abuse prevention should be expanded, since pharmacists provide vital patient counseling to help ensure that these medications are not misused, abused, or diverted.