A recent Report to Congress by the Government Accountability Office documented low participation rates among pharmacies and other eligible entities in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) unused controlled substance collection and disposal program. The report features an outline of program requirements, a state-by-state overview of currently eligible and enrolled entities and information about participation rates by rural and urban location. Click here to review the full report.

Nationwide, about 3 percent of pharmacies and other eligible entities have voluntarily chosen to become DEA-authorized collectors of unused prescription drugs, according to DEA data. As of April 2017, 2,233 of the 89,550 (2.49 percent) of eligible entities—which are already authorized by DEA to handle controlled substances—had registered to use disposal bins to collect unused prescription drugs.

Variance exists within the Great Plains QIN region of entities eligible to register with DEA to become authorized collectors and participating collectors. As of April 2017, Kansas had 19/1,012 (1.9%) eligible sites registered; Nebraska 23/647 (3.6%); North Dakota 88/275 (32.0%); and South Dakota 4/313 (1.3%). The DEA website provides the ability to search for authorized collection sites in each state.

Several factors may explain why many pharmacies and other eligible entities have not yet chosen to become authorized collectors of unused prescription drugs. These factors include the associated costs of participating, uncertainty over proper implementation, and participation in other, similar efforts for disposing of unused prescription drugs.

The report shows North Dakota has the highest rates pharmacy participation in the country. A major contributing factor is the support of the state’s Board of Pharmacy to provide start up disposal bins to encourage pharmacy participation; overcoming one of the barriers to participation.

For those eligible entities interested in becoming collection sites, click here to review guidance from the DEA’s Diversion Control Division.

The Great Plains QIN recently hosted a webinar and coaching call on drug take-back programs with subject matter experts from across our region. Click here to review the webinar Strategies to Improve Take Back of Unused Medication, which includes the North Dakota story, and here to review the follow-up coaching call.