You may be used to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) holding Drug Take Back events in April and September. Because the Controlled Substances Act did not permit hospitals, pharmacies, and other institutions to accept unused controlled substances, these events were created to provide patients with a means to dispose of these medications. Since the first event in 2010 over 2,100 tons of prescription medications have been collected, preventing these from diversion or entering the water supply due to improper disposal.

The Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 authorized the DEA to develop and implement regulations to allow the public to transfer unused controlled substances and other prescription drugs to authorized collectors. These regulations, finalized in September 2014, allow certain DEA registrants (eg, pharmacies, hospitals/clinics with a on-site pharmacy, narcotic treatment programs) to become authorized collectors with the DEA. These authorized collectors may utilize an on-site collection receptacle or operate via a mail-back program.

Some communities may still choose to hold a local drug take-back event; however, the DEA will no longer be sponsoring these nationally. Patients can locate an authorized collector in their community by calling the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control’s Registration Call Center at 1-800-882-9539, or by visiting

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An important note is that not all drug take-back programs will accept chemotherapy drugs or syringes, so patients should check with each program prior to transferring these substances to an authorized collector.

For more information about these programs, visit