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Pharmacies to collect unused drugs

New drug regulation to help get unused medication off streets

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – You will soon be allowed to take back unused prescription drugs to your local pharmacy thanks to a new regulation by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The goal is to get addictive medications off the street.

The regulation will go into effect next month and it comes after complaints from people fighting drug addictions who don't have an easy way to get rid of unused pills.

Right now, some of the few options people have is to flush pills or throw them in the trash but those options have raised concerns over environmental worries. They can also turn in unused pills to law enforcement agencies that participate in special drug-take-back programs, but those only happen every so often. A local pharmacist said this new regulation is good news.

"Having the everyday ability to do that under the new law, we haven't gotten the rules yet, we just know that there's a law coming, that indeed it should help quite a bit because people don't know what to do with their drugs," said Pharmacist Gary Roberts.

Pharmacist Gary Roberts with Southbank Pharmacy said he expects a new drug regulation to have a positive impact.

Starting in October, the Drug Enforcement Administration will allow pharmacies to take back customers' unused prescription drugs such as opioid painkillers, which are known to be addictive.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced the new rule by mentioning that close to four in 10 teens who misused prescription drugs obtained them from family medicine cabinets.

And in 2011, more than half of the 41,300 unintentional drug overdose deaths in the U.S. involved prescription drugs.

Roberts said people don't have many options these days because most methods aren't considered environmentally friendly and the new regulation will help get unwanted pills out of households.

"The old practice was to flush old drugs down the commode, but of course we can't do that anymore because now it's poisoned our water supply and there's a lot of ecological damage because of that," said Roberts.

Roberts said not only will the new drug regulation help people fighting drug addictions get rid of those addictive medications, but he also said pharmacies will help keep drugs out of the wrong hands.

"I think that the impact on us will be that once we get those drugs, again depending on what the rule is, is that we dispose of them quickly and move them out of our facility so we don't become a store house for control drugs," said Roberts.

The new rule, which covers all prescription drugs, will also allow people to mail unused pills for collection. It wasn't immediately clear how many businesses would offer the service to its customers. Any pills collected will be destroyed.