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The White House
For Immediate Release

Obama Administration Announces New Rules for Safely and Legally Disposing of Prescription Drugs

New Regulations from the Drug Enforcement Administration a Decisive Step in Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse; Will Establish New Legal Channels for Disposing of Unwanted Prescription Drugs in Environmentally-Friendly Ways

Washington, D.C. –, Today, Michael Botticelli, Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy, joined Michele Leonhart, Administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Tristam Coffin, the U.S. Attorney for Vermont, to announce the release of the Final Rule for the Disposal of Controlled Substances, which implements the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act signed into law by President Obama on October 14, 2010.  In an effort to combat the opioid epidemic, the Act authorized DEA to develop and implement regulations that outline methods to transfer unused or unwanted medications to authorized collectors for disposal. The Act also permits long-term-care facilities to do the same on behalf of residents or former residents of their facilities.

The abuse of opioids, a group of drugs that includes heroin and prescription painkillers, has a devastating impact on public health and safety in this country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 110 Americans died from overdose every day in 2011. Prescription drugs were involved in more than half of the 41,300 overdose deaths that year, and opioid pain relievers were involved in nearly 17,000 of these deaths. There were about 4,300 drug poisoning deaths related to heroin. Drug overdose deaths even outnumbered deaths from gunshot wounds or motor vehicle crashes.

“Every day, I hear from another parent who has tragically lost a son or daughter to an opioid overdose. No words can lessen their pain,” said Michael Botticelli, Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy. “But we can take decisive action, like the one we’re announcing today, to prevent more lives from being cut short far too soon. We know that if we remove unused painkillers from the home, we can prevent misuse and dependence from ever taking hold. These regulations will create critical new avenues for addictive prescription drugs to leave the home and be disposed of in a safe, environmentally friendly way.”

In response to the opioid epidemic, the Obama Administration in 2011 released a comprehensive Prescription Drug Abuse Plan that called for convenient and environmentally responsible prescription drug disposal programs to help decrease the supply of unused prescription drugs in the home. The regulations announced today comprise a key pillar of the Plan.

In July, the Office of National Drug Control Policy released the 2014 National Drug Control Strategy, the Obama Administration’s primary blueprint for drug policy in the United States. The Strategy builds on the Administration’s record of drug policy reform by outlining a series of actions that will continue to expand health interventions and “smart on crime” alternatives proven to reduce drug use and its consequences in America. The Strategy also notes significant increases in heroin and prescription drug abuse as key challenges and highlights a series of actions currently underway to reduce the impact of the opioid epidemic in the United States.

In support of this Strategy, the President has requested $25.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2015.  Federal funding for public health programs that address substance use has increased every year, and the portion of the Nation’s drug budget spent on drug treatment and prevention efforts (43%) has grown to its highest level in over 12 years. Moreover, the $10.9 billion request for treatment and prevention is now nearly 20% higher than the $9.2 billion requested for Federally-funded domestic drug law enforcement and incarceration. The FY 2015 Budget request also includes $3.9 billion for interdiction, and $1.4 billion for international programs.

To read the Strategy and learn more about the Administration plan, visit:

The Office of National Drug Control Policy seeks to foster healthy individuals and safe communities by effectively leading the Nation’s effort to reduce drug use and its consequences.