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Pilot Pharmaceutical Take-Back Program Open Enrollment

Enrollment in DEC's pilot pharmaceutical take-back program is now open to all New York State health care entities such as:

  • retail chain and independent pharmacies,
  • hospitals and medical clinics with on-site pharmacies, and
  • pharmacies servicing long-term care facilities (class 3A facilities in NYS).

The program covers the costs of consumer drug collection boxes and disposal for two years, and gives pharmacies a safe, convenient and effective way to keep drugs out of our waters and out of the wrong hands.

Eligibility Requirements

  1. New York State retail pharmacies, New York State hospitals or medical clinics with on-site pharmacies, or pharmacies servicing New York State long-term care facilities (LTCFs) are eligible. LTCFs cannot apply on their own; only the pharmacy servicing the LTCF can enroll on the LTCF's behalf. Pharmacies servicing LTCFs should review the DEA Regulations for Long-Term Care Facilities section before applying.
  2. Applicants must agree to continue collection efforts, at their own expense, for a minimum of six (6) months after the two-year pilot program ends.
  3. Applicants cannot currently have a medication collection drop box at the applying location. The goal of the pilot program is to increase drop box locations within New York State; replacing an existing collection box will not serve that objective.
  4. A separate application must be completed for each location; retail pharmacy chains may submit up to 20 applications (locations).

How to Apply

To participate in the program, fill out the open enrollment application (link leaves DEC website).

Applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Given the potential interest in this pilot program and limited funding available, there is no guarantee that all interested health care entities will be accepted into the program. Every effort will be made to maximize program participation.

Program Details

DEC will pay for a US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) compliant medication collection drop box, replacement inner liners, and the cost of pick up, transport and destruction of all collected waste pharmaceuticals by a DEA-registered reverse distributor for two (2) years. The pharmacy will be responsible for any costs related to the installation of the medication collection drop box.

Applicants accepted to participate in the program will need to follow certain next steps and responsibilities upon acceptance and during the program, as described below.

Pharmacy Responsibilities

Accepted applicants will receive an award letter from DEC. The pharmacy will then:

  1. Modify its DEA registration (link leaves DEC website) to become an "authorized collector" of controlled substances through an on-site take-back program. This is a free online process.

  2. Sign a formal cooperative agreement with DEC.

  3. Read and understand Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations Part 1317 - Disposal (link leaves DEC website).

  4. Receive and install the medication collection box according to the collection box supplier's instructions and DEA requirements.

  5. Ensure proper operation of the collection box which includes: periodic monitoring to determine when it is full; removing and replacing the inner liner when full; contacting the drug disposal contractor to arrange for liner pickup; and securely storing the liner until it is retrieved by the disposal contractor.

  6. Maintain all records as required by DEA regulations by filling out the Step Log provided by the drug disposal contractor.

  7. Ensure that signage is properly displayed on or near the collection box. Signage and display information will be provided by the collection box supplier.

Vendor Responsibilities

A third party-contractor, or vendor, will be hired by DEC to:

  1. Ship the medication collection box to the participating pharmacy or long-term care facility.

  2. Provide training and technical support to the pharmacies throughout the program.

  3. Provide signage for the medication collection box.

  4. Pick up and transport, or contract with a common carrier like UPS or FedEx, waste pharmaceuticals.

  5. Provide replacement inner liners.

  6. Provide online tracking of waste pharmaceuticals.

  7. Destroy all waste pharmaceuticals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the pharmacy's costs?

For the first two years, the pharmacy only pays for the installation of the collection box. After two years, we estimate the cost of pickups, inner liner replacements, and disposal to be $100.00-140.00 per month.

How can I enroll more than 20 pharmacy locations?

Please contact Thomas Snow at for more information.

How big are the DEA-compliant medication collection boxes?

DEC intends to offer a medication collection drop box that will hold between 33 to 42 gallons of waste pharmaceuticals. The collection box dimensions are estimated to be 43 to 54 inches tall by 20 to 25 inches wide by 19 to 23 inches deep.

Where should the medication collection box be installed?

The collection box must be installed in an area that can be easily and continuously monitored by the pharmacist, or pharmacy staff, and is accessible to the public.

What medications will be allowed in the collection boxes?

Consumers will be allowed to deposit controlled and non-controlled substances, including creams and liquids such as antibiotics. "Sharps" will not be allowed.

How long is the pilot program?

The pilot program will run for two years at no cost to the participating pharmacy. After two years, the pharmacy is required to continue collecting waste pharmaceuticals, at their own expense, for six months.

What happens if the pharmacy decides to no longer participate in the program?

If the pharmacy decides to withdraw from the pilot program at any time, then DEC has the right to remove the collection box from the pharmacy.

Are senior housing facilities eligible to apply?

No, DEA regulations only allow pharmacies to participate in collection efforts. If the senior housing facility has an on-site pharmacy, the pharmacy may apply to the program.

The pharmacy that services our NYS long-term care facility is not located within NYS. Are they eligible to apply?

Out of state pharmacies that service NYS long-term care facilities are eligible to apply. Please note, DEA regulations require the installation, removal, transfer, and storage of inner liners be performed either: By or under the supervision of one employee of the pharmacy and one supervisor-level employee of the long-term care facility (e.g., a charge nurse or supervisor) designated by the pharmacy; or, by or under the supervision of two employees of the pharmacy.

What additional pharmacy-based collection resources are available?

The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) has a number of valuable resources related to pharmacy-based collection programs implemented in New York and across the United States, including the "How-to Guide for Drug Take-Back: Managing a Pharmacy-Based Collection Program for Leftover Household Pharmaceuticals" (PDF, 2.92 MB). This guide was created as an outcome of a recently completed and successful pilot pharmacy-based medication collection program in Oneida and Lewis Counties. PSI also held a webinar on this pilot program and included the participating pharmacies as speakers. A recording of the webinar can be downloaded at PSI's website, Best Practices for Running Pharmacy-Based Drug Take-Back-Webinar Recording (link leaves DEC website).

Where can pharmacies obtain mail back envelopes for consumers to mail their medications for destruction?

Mail back envelopes can be obtained for a fee from one of these approved reverse distributors (PDF, 23 KB).

DEA Regulations for Long-Term Care Facilities

Pharmacies interested in managing a pharmaceutical collection program at a Long-Term Care Facility should carefully review §1317.80 of Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations before applying for the pilot program. Excerpts of this regulation are below:

(a) A long-term care facility may dispose of controlled substances in Schedules II, III, IV, and V on behalf of an ultimate user who resides, or has resided, at such long-term care facility by transferring those controlled substances into an authorized collection receptacle located at that long-term care facility. When disposing of such controlled substances by transferring those substances into a collection receptacle, such disposal shall occur immediately, but no longer than three business days after the discontinuation of use by the ultimate user. Discontinuation of use includes a permanent discontinuation of use as directed by the prescriber, as a result of the resident's transfer from the long-term care facility, or as a result of death.

(b) Only authorized retail pharmacies and hospitals/clinics with an on-site pharmacy may install, manage, and maintain collection receptacles at long-term care facilities and remove, seal, transfer, and store, or supervise the removal, sealing, transfer, and storage of sealed inner liners at long-term care facilities. Collectors authorized to install, manage, and maintain collection receptacles at long-term care facilities shall comply with all requirements of this chapter, including §§1317.60, 1317.75, and 1317.80.

(c) The installation, removal, transfer, and storage of inner liners shall be performed either: By or under the supervision of one employee of the authorized collector and one supervisor-level employee of the long-term care facility (e.g., a charge nurse or supervisor) designated by the authorized collector; or, by or under the supervision of two employees of the authorized collector.

(d) Upon removal, sealed inner liners may only be stored at the long-term care facility for up to three business days in a securely locked, substantially constructed cabinet or a securely locked room with controlled access until transfer in accordance with §1317.05(c)(2)(iv).

(e) Neither a hospital/clinic with an on-site pharmacy nor a retail pharmacy shall operate a collection receptacle at a long-term care facility until its registration has been modified in accordance with §1301.51 of this chapter.