DEA Takes Back Prescription Drugs When Pharmacies Can't

April 16, 2014

Tons of prescription drugs have been turned in over the last several years at Valley events. The “take-back days” are part of a larger effort to remove dangerous drugs from potential abusers.

On Saturday, April 26, Peoria is working with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to hold a drug take-back event. Ramona Sanchez from the DEA said the organization started promoting them five years ago.

“Studies have shown recently that there are high rates of these prescription drug abuses in the U.S.,” Sanchez said. “So this initiative addresses these types of efforts to try to diminish or get rid of those prescription painkillers that would otherwise languish in households and offices.”

Sanchez said the DEA has collected about 40,000 pounds of pharmaceutical drugs from Valley cities so far.

Hal Wand is executive director of the Arizona State Board of Pharmacy. He said that the take-back days are helpful, but the reason drugs do not get thrown away properly is because pharmacies are not allowed to take them back.

“The DEA started taking them back and then they burn them after they get them back, but they can only take them back through law enforcement and not through a pharmacy,” Wand said. “And until that law is changed where it’s a one way thing from a pharmacy, the DEA is probably going to have to continue the take-back days.”

Sanchez said the DEA is reviewing that rule and could allow entities approved by the Attorney General, like pharmacies, to take back and destroy drugs returned by the public.

Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act in 2010, which allows the DEA to develop a method for disposing controlled substances such as prescription drugs.

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You can find information about finding a collection site at www.dea.gov.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been modified to reflect the Peoria collection date is Saturday, April 26.

Updated 4/17/14 at 10:26 a.m.