LTC providers can collect controlled substances under new federal policy

Long-term care facilities will be able to collect controlled substances turned in by residents, under a new Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulation meant to combat prescription drug abuse and misuse, especially among children.

Opioid pain relievers were responsible for almost 17,000 of the 41,300 unintentional drug overdose deaths in the United States as recently as 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder said in a video message posted on the Department of Justice's website to coincide with yesterday's announcement of the regulation.

The new policy also will allow pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and other authorized collectors to serve as drop-off sites for unused prescription drugs. Prescription drug users also will be permitted to mail their leftover medications directly to authorized collectors.

The collected medications will be destroyed to ensure that they don’t end up in landfills or in the water supply, Holder said.

The new policy builds on existing “take-back” programs launched by the DEA. At such an event in April, 390 tons of prescription drugs were collected at a total of almost 6,100 sites. Over the past four years alone, the DEA and partner organizations have collected more than 2,100 tons of prescription pills. The DEA’s next take-back event will be Sept. 27.

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