In 2014 the DEA passed the final ruling authorizing ultimate users to transfer controlled substances to an authorized collector for safe, secure, and responsible disposal. Retail pharmacies, hospitals and clinics with on-site pharmacies, Narcotic treatment programs, manufacturers, distributors and reverse distributors authorized to handle schedule II drugs may modify their DEA registration to become authorized collectors of controlled substances. There is no fee to modify registration.

To modify DEA registration click here.

For other information from the DEA regarding disposal of controlled substances click here.

Authorized collectors can collect controlled substances through collection receptacles or mail back programs.

The DEA rule includes requirements for the receptacles, liners, transportation, record keeping, handling, and destruction of controlled substances.

Law enforcement still has autonomy in collection of controlled substances. Many police stations host collection receptacles and/or drug take-back events.

However, according to a recent study from Johns Hopkins Center for Mental Health, “fewer than 7 percent of people with extra pills reported taking advantage of “take back” programs” and almost half reported not receiving any information on how or why to dispose of leftover medication.

disposal-imagePharmacies and clinics can help!

Pharmacists play an important role in patient health, from advising patients on medications to blood pressure screenings and flu shots. Now you can play a simple but important part in addressing the opioid epidemic.

Medication disposal receptacles located in pharmacies are convenient and logical. In a 2016 survey of LA county residents, 87% said drop bins for medicines in pharmacies were a good idea.


When patients visit the pharmacy to pick up a new prescription, they should receive information about the importance of disposing of any leftover medication. Patients who receive counseling from their doctor or pharmacist about the importance of disposing of unused medications are far more likely to dispose of medications responsibly than those who do not receive this information.

The next time the consumer picks up a prescription from the pharmacy they can simply drop off any unused medications in the disposal box.

Providing education about the dangers of keeping unused medications along with convenient disposal locations can prevent the misuse of dangerous medications.

How do I become a disposal site?

disposal-toolkit-coverThe Rx Disposal Toolkit is a step-by-step guide for pharmacies who want to provide medication disposal services to their communities. Eliminating leftover opioids and other pills from medicine cabinets can prevent misuse and abuse of medication. The toolkit walks pharmacists through the process of ordering and installing a DEA compliant disposal system. This toolkit was created by the Oregon Coalition for the Responsible Use of Meds (OrCRM) as part of the Oregon Disposal Initiative and made possible by funding from the Oregon Attorney General.

The National Safety Council Safe Medication also has a helpful Disposal Guide

Links to companies providing pharmacy-based disposal services:

Note: OrCRM does not endorse any disposal company. Recommendations are informational only. To add a disposal company to this list please contact Allyn Cripe.