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Safe Medication Disposal for Long-Term Care Facilities, other Class 3A Facilities, and Veterinarians

Safe Disposal of Medication for Long-Term Care Facilities (LTCFs) and other Class 3A Facilities

Retail pharmacies, hospitals, and medical clinics can maintain collection receptacles at LTCFs on a voluntary basis.
NYS Department of Health (DOH) requires institutional facilities without the services of an on-site pharmacy to be licensed as a Class 3A Institutional Dispenser, Limited facility. However, not every Class 3A licensee meets the qualifications required to be recognized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a LTCF.

There are several disposal methods available to LTCFs and other Class 3A facilities:

  1. Disposal Options for LTCF residents: Mail-back programs and collection receptacles.
    LTCF residents may participate in DEA-authorized collection mail-back programs and collection receptacles in accordance with federal DEA regulations
    • While LTCFs, themselves, may not use mail-back packages or administer a mail-back program, LTCF residents may use all disposal methods made available to household consumers under the DEA rule, including participation in mail-back programs.
    • On behalf of an LTCF resident, an LTCF employee may place the resident's unused, unwanted, or expired pharmaceuticals in a mail-back package, seal it, and deposit it into the LTCF's outgoing mail system.
    • Retail pharmacies, as well as hospitals and medical clinics with an on-site pharmacy, may maintain DEA-authorized collection receptacles at LTCFs in accordance with federal DEA regulations. (21 CFR 1317.75) (21 CFR 1317.80)
    • An LTCF employee may place unused, unwanted, or expired pharmaceuticals that are lawfully possessed into an authorized collection receptacle located at that LTCF on behalf of a consumer who resides, or has resided, at such LTCF.
  2. Class 3A facilities' staff with lawful temporary custody of unused, unwanted, or expired pharmaceutical controlled substances may surrender them to law enforcement for destruction pursuant to a DOH-approved Law Enforcement Take-Back Event.
    • Law enforcement may collect controlled substances from consumers and persons lawfully entitled to dispose of a deceased consumer's property.
    • Law enforcement agencies shall appoint a law enforcement officer employed by that agency to oversee the collection.
    • Control and chain of custody of the collected pharmaceuticals will be securely maintained by those law enforcement officers from the time of collection to transfer, storage, or destruction of the controlled pharmaceuticals.
    • Each Class 3A facility seeking to participate in a DOH-approved Law Enforcement Take-Back Event must complete and submit required documentation to the applicable DOH Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement regional office. Instructions and forms are available on DOH's website.
    • All Class 3A Facilities, including LTCFs, may request pharmaceutical pick-ups by DEC Law Enforcement on an "as needed" basis. These pick-ups are dependent upon the availability of DEC resources. DEC Law Enforcement may also be able to conduct periodic pre-scheduled pickups. Contact DEC's Bureau of Public Outreach at 518-402-8044.
    • Once a Class 3A facility confirms its participation in the pick-up by DEC Law Enforcement, DEC Law Enforcement will contact the facility to schedule an approximate time and date for pickup. Law enforcement officers provide security, maintain chain of custody, witness the surrender to the incineration facility, and witness destruction via incineration of all waste pharmaceuticals collected.

Safe Disposal of Medication for Veterinarians

As Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registrants, veterinary hospitals and offices should follow all DEA guidelines. DEC recommends always trying to return expired medications to manufacturers through reverse distribution. Reverse distributors must be registered with the DEA. To find a list of reverse distributors, see the 'Reverse Distributor List (Surrender to Independent Companies)' on the New York State Department of Health's (DOH) Safe Disposal of Controlled Substances webpage (link leaves DEC website), or contact your local DEA Diversion Field Office.

For more information see: (all of the following links leave DEC website)

*All information on this page is provided as a resource. Further questions regarding disposal regulations and methods should be directed to the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, or the Drug Enforcement Administration, Diversion Control Division.