Pharmacists seek clarity for long-term care in new drug disposal law

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Nursing home antipsychotic legislation set aside
Nursing home antipsychotic legislation set aside

A new law establishing prescription drug take-back programs has left many long-term care facilities in the dark about the disposal of controlled medications, one pharmacist group says.

The Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which President Obama signed last week, will allow community-based drug take-back programs to accept unused controlled prescription medications for safe disposal. It is designed to reduce the potential for abuse or harm from expired or unused controlled medications. The law reduces that risk “by permitting individuals and long-term care facilities to deliver the most dangerous prescription drugs to law enforcement officials and other authorized individuals for safe disposal,” co-sponsor Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) said.

Still, some language in the law could actually lead to more uncertainty for those in long-term care, according to the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. A provision in the law allows the attorney general to establish guidelines for long-term care facilities to dispose of medications on behalf of residents. But because the law does not require the attorney general to make the guidelines, both facilities and pharmacies are left without clear instructions on how to dispose of controlled medication waste, according to the ASCP.