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Pilot Pharmaceutical Take-Back Program

a person drops unwanted medications in a drug takeback box at her local pharmacy
Placing medications in a pilot Rx Drug Drop box

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

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

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 (leaves DEC website) section before applying.
  2. Applicants must agree to continue collection efforts, at their own expense, for a minimum of six months after the two-year pilot program ends.
  3. Applicants cannot currently have a medication collection drop box at the applying location.
  4. A separate application must be completed for each location; retail pharmacy chains may submit up to 20 applications (locations). Those wishing to apply for more than 20 locations should contact

How to Apply

To participate in the program, fill out the open enrollment application (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 U.S. 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 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 (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 (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.

Important Details

  • The pilot program will run for two years at no cost to the participating pharmacy. 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. After two years, the pharmacy is required to continue collecting waste pharmaceuticals, at their own expense, for six months.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Consumers will be allowed to deposit controlled and non-controlled substances, including creams and liquids such as antibiotics. "Sharps" will not be allowed.
  • 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.

Information 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.

DEA regulations only allow pharmacies to participate in collection efforts. If a long-term care facility has an on-site pharmacy, the pharmacy may apply to the program.

Out of state pharmacies that service long-term care facilities in New York are eligible to apply. 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.