LTC needs to play active role in meds disposal, pharmacy group says

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) wants new standards that will help long-term care facilities participate more actively in the disposal of controlled substances. The suggestion was one of several submitted Tuesday by the NCPA in its comments on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) proposed rule on the disposal of expired or unused controlled substances.

Other recommendations include allowing pharmacies to use their contracted reverse distributors to collect controlled substances from long-term care facilities, and creating standards-based methods for LTC sites to house on-site disposal systems.

Too many controlled substances are disposed of in an unsafe manner, ending up in the water supply—or in the wrong hands. The NCPA hopes the DEA will consider allowing community pharmacies to host drug reclaiming programs that include controlled substances—a drug class prohibited in NCPA’s currrent medication disposal program, Dispose My Meds.

The DEA's proposed rule is hazy on the details when it comes to LTC facilities, which handle volumes of medications, often on behalf of their residents. In addition, although some LTC facilities have an in-house pharmacy, many others allow their residents to choose their own pharmacies, complicating the liability for controlled substance disposal, NCPA’s comment letter states.

About 40 percent of the LTC market uses an independent community pharmacy for some or all of its medication needs, the NCPA says.

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