Why You Should Collect Unused Medications

You’re in the business of dispensing medications, not necessarily accepting them as a return. However, you might want to consider the benefits of helping to take unused or unwanted prescription medicine out of circulation.

Thanks to a federal program, you have a unique opportunity to strengthen your relationships with your patients while adding a much-needed service. The program allows pharmacies to become authorized collectors of unused or unwanted prescription medications. This also includes controlled substances under the confines of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Before, the DEA limited disposal of unused controlled substances to approved locations, which did not include retail pharmacies. While that has changed, you should be aware of additional, yet nominal, operating costs. These costs include a secure collection receptacle, a separate stock area to store the meds, and an agreement with a reputable reverse-drug distributor. Plus, the distributor will accept and destroy the products safely and appropriately. Because state laws are also inconsistent, be sure to thoroughly research the laws in your area.

The benefits of providing such a service overwhelmingly outweigh the costs.

Here’s what you’ll gain:

More new business

This is an opportunity to increase actual foot traffic in your store, since patients have to physically bring in the items. Plus, it can lead to additional profit, increased revenue, and closer relationships with your patients. This is a relatively fast, easy, and beneficial way to increase the number of touch points with your patients. This can be hard to come by.

Increased medication adherence

Have you noticed that someone consistently returns unused pills? If so, this might be a sign they’re not taking the meds appropriately. This presents a great opportunity to talk to—and listen to—your patient. Such face-to-face communication is valuable but rare. It allows you to better counsel your patients, suggesting appropriate alternatives or solving possible problems. Furthermore, you know that nothing beats in-person service.

Greater community service

Offer a prescription-medicine take-back program and make your community healthier in many ways. Unused medication left in medicine cabinets leads to theft or misuse. Plus, people often dispose of unused prescription meds by flushing them down the toilet or pouring them down the sink. This results in trace amounts of drugs finding their way into  local water supplies.

The DEA is measuring its success by the amount of medicine returned. However, your measure is more valuable and even more straightforward. You gain strengthened relationships, better business, and greater service to your patients and your community.

A Member-Owned Company Serving Independent Pharmacies

PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy-side of their business. Founded and owned by pharmacists, PBA Health serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, wholesaler contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, and more.

An HDA member, PBA Health operates its own NABP-accredited secondary wholesaler with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products — offering the lowest prices in the secondary market.

Editor’s Picks


Elements is written and produced by PBA Health, a buy-side solutions company.

Sign up for a FREE subscription to Elements magazine!


Sign up to receive PBA Health’s e-newsletter to get the latest Elements web articles in your inbox every other week, along with industry news, supply chain insights, and exclusive offers.

Related Articles

Popular Articles