Alexandria, Va. - Sept. 23, 2010
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) supports the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives legislative efforts to safely dispose of prescription drugs. The Senate passed S. 3397, the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act, last month and yesterday the House passed H.R. 5809, the Safe Drug Disposal Act.
The bills address traces of prescription drugs being found in America's drinking water because they were discarded in environmentally unfriendly ways, as well as left over prescription drugs from family medicine cabinets that could be misused or abused by children; by creating a national standard for their safe disposal. Most importantly, the legislation allows for drug disposal programs to include controlled substances for the first time. However, NCPA remains concerned that neither bill provides for liability protections for participating pharmacies nor adequate funding mechanisms or grant programs to assist in the cost of responsible collection.
NCPA's concerns were conveyed to the House of Representatives prior to the vote. NCPA will work for clarification in the legislation and also work closely with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) or Environmental Protection Agency on regulatory assistance.
NCPA has been at the forefront of voluntary efforts to help patients dispose of expired and unused prescription drugs with the Dispose My Meds program. In 2009, NCPA made its initial foray into this area by helping its members craft their own program based on marketing tools, product discounts, and expert advice. This year these efforts were ratcheted up as we partnered with Sharps Compliance, Inc., a nationally recognized leader in drug disposal, to make those efforts easier for participating pharmacies.
"Independent community pharmacists are uniquely positioned to help Americans get rid of expired and unused prescription drugs," said Joseph H. Harmison, PD, NCPA president and pharmacy owner in Arlington, TX. "That's why over 1,000 member pharmacies are now engaged in a successful drug disposal programs with Sharps Compliance, Inc."
Harmison added, "We are pleased the DEA is sponsoring a national prescription drug disposal day on September 25, and are heartened that Congress has weighed in legislatively to facilitate a long-term solution. It's giant step forward to allow for controlled substances, which had previously been precluded from any disposal programs, to be included. A private-public partnership will only ensure more resources are being devoted to this effort. However, that partnership will grow stronger if liability protections are included and funding assistance is offered. Those improvements will truly empower even more pharmacies to help."
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 22,700 independent community pharmacies, pharmacy franchises, and chains. Together they represent an $88 billion health-care marketplace, employ over 65,000 pharmacists, and dispense over 40% of all retail prescriptions. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at http://ncpanet.wordpress.com.
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