News & Press: For Immediate Release

PSI Pleased with U.S. DEA's Rx Take-Back Rule, Issues Reminder of Need for Producer Responsibility

Monday, September 8, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rachel Rose Belew

Expansion of take-back collection options for controlled substances helps reduce risks of drug abuse and overdose, protects waterways—but still lacks sustainable funding

BOSTON, Mass.—The Product Stewardship Institute, Inc. (PSI), a national nonprofit dedicated to reducing the health and environmental impacts of consumer products, announces its support for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) newly released final rule on the secure disposal of controlled substances. The rule expands pharmaceutical collection options to authorize retail pharmacies, manufacturers, drug distributors, reverse distributors, narcotic treatment programs, and hospitals/clinics with an on-site pharmacy to volunteer to collect medications like Vicodin, Oxycontin, and Percocet. However, PSI also issues a reminder about the need for sustainable financing of these collection options, urging pharmaceuticals manufacturers to take responsibility for these costs.

“The DEA rule is a significant step toward providing more Americans with convenient access to safe, secure, and environmentally responsible pharmaceutical collection sites for all of their unwanted medicines, and even increasing business opportunities for retail pharmacies,” says Scott Cassel, chief executive officer of PSI. “But the next step that’s needed is for the pharmaceutical industry to step up and cover the costs of collection and ultimate disposal of their products.”

In recent years, law enforcement, pharmacies, local governments, and community advocates have established tremendous partnerships that have enabled the creation of effective medicine take-back programs, but the pharmaceutical industry has been unresponsive, Cassel adds. A producer responsibility approach would not only alleviate the monetary burden on local governments and taxpayers, but it would also help prevent accidental drug overdoses, prescription drug abuse, and environmental contamination by financially sustaining the expanded take-back opportunities allowed by the DEA rule.

Prescription drugs contribute to more accidental drug overdose deaths than heroin and crack-cocaine combined, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They can also encourage illicit use by drug abusers. Leftover medications are also problematic from an environmental standpoint if they are flushed or disposed of in the trash, as they can enter our waterways and potentially contaminate our drinking water supply and harm aquatic life.

Secure medicine take-back programs are the safe and environmentally sound method of disposing of leftover and expired medicines, but they are not yet available in all communities due to a lack of sustainable financing, and due to challenges related to the collection of controlled substances. While the new DEA rule allows for the implementation of the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act, which Congress passed unanimously in 2010 to address these collection challenges, it does not address the issue of sustainable financing.

“Our organization is pleased that the DEA has taken clear action on this very important issue, but more needs to happen to ensure family safety and environmental health,” says Ed Gottlieb, chair of the Tompkins County, New York-based Coalition for Safe Medication Disposal. “Sustainable funding through a product stewardship approach is necessary for robust, wide-spread implementation of take-back programs across the country now that the final DEA rule is in place.”

PSI has been actively involved in pharmaceuticals stewardship initiatives for the past seven years, having led two national multi-stakeholder dialogue meetings in 2008, lobbied to change the Controlled Substances Act and influence the DEA regulations, and launched the Go-To Guide for Safe Drug Take-Back, an online resource for locating and starting drug take-back programs. PSI also prepared and submitted to the DEA a written response to the DEA’s proposed rule in February 2013, urging the Administration to issue its final rule.

The final rule, which the DEA will officially publish tomorrow, can be read by clicking here.                                                      



Media Contacts


Rachel Rose Belew

Director of Communications + Marketing

(617) 236-4886


Scott Cassel

Chief Executive Officer/Founder

(617) 236-4822




About the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI)


The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) is a national, membership-based nonprofit committed to reducing the health, safety, and environmental impacts of consumer products across their lifecycle -- with a strong focus on sustainable end-of-life management. Headquartered in Boston, Mass., we take a unique product stewardship approach to solving waste management problems by encouraging product design changes and mediating stakeholder dialogues. With 47 state environmental agency members, along with hundreds of local government members from coast-to-coast, and 95 corporate, business, academic, non-U.S. government, and organizational partners, we work to design, implement, evaluate, strengthen, and promote both legislative and voluntary product stewardship initiatives across North America. Like us on Facebook at Follow us on Twitter @ProductSteward.