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DEA lets pharmacies accept unwanted prescription drugs

Residents will be able to safely dispose of prescription drugs more easily under new regulations that the federal Drug Enforcement Administration released Monday.

Pharmacies that register with the DEA will be able to accept unwanted pharmaceuticals through take-back events, mail-back programs or collection boxes at stores.

"This is very good news. It took a long time, but I'm glad it was done," said Sen. Charles Schumer, who had pushed for the regulation.

Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the DEA regulation would help reduce abuse of prescription drugs.

"How have these drugs become such a scourge? They come from the medicine cabinet," Schumer said. Schumer co-sponsored the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which allowed the DEA to set new rules.

The DEA filed the rules Monday. According to the regulation, the agency needed to "conduct a comprehensive review of DEA policies and regulations related to each element of the disposal process, including the transfer, delivery, collection, destruction, return, and recall of controlled substances." The DEA did not respond to a request for comment.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that as much as 70 percent of prescription drugs that are abused come from homes, rather than drug dealers.

Environmentalists also have expressed concern about the effect on the water supply of narcotics and other drugs flushed down drains. The new regulation will take effect Oct. 9.

Long Island has struggled with painkiller abuse. In June 2011, David Laffer fatally shot four people in a Medford pharmacy and stole thousands of pain pills.

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