DEA changes rule on disposal of unused controlled drugs

DEA: Unused Prescription Opioids, Other Drugs May be Returned to Pharmacies

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently altered an existing rule so as to allow unused opioid analgesics, stimulant and sedative medications to be returned to pharmacies. Consumers also will be allowed to mail unused prescription medications to an authorized collector, in packages that will be available at pharmacies and other locations, including senior centers and libraries. The new provisions became effective October 9, 2014.

The DEA will require pharmacies that accept unused medications to permanently destroy them, but will not specify how they do it. Pharmacy participation is voluntary.

Until now, the federal Controlled Substances Act required patients to dispose of the drugs themselves or give them to law enforcement agencies during twice-yearly national “take-back” events.

“These new regulations will expand the public’s options to safely and responsibly dispose of unused or unwanted medications,” DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart said in a news release. “The new rules will allow for around-the-clock, simple solutions to this ongoing problem. Now everyone can easily play a part in reducing the availability of these potentially dangerous drugs.”

For more information, see the Federal Register at


NIH: Applications for Tuition Loan Repayment Program are Due November 17th

Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs) from the National Institutes of Health are available to support scientific researchers by mitigating the burdens of student loan debt. Specifically, the LRPs repay up to $70,000 of student loan debt over the course of a new, two-year contract. The application cycle opened this year on September 1st and will close on November 17th.

To be eligible, applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and hold a medical degree, doctorate or equivalent degree from an accredited institution (there is an exception for the Contraception and Infertility Research LRP). LRPs are awarded in five areas:

  • Clinical Research LRP: Patient-oriented research conducted with human subjects;
  • Pediatric Research LRP: Research that is directly related to diseases, disorders, and other conditions in children;
  • Health Disparities Research LRP: Research that focuses on health disparities populations;
  • Contraception and Infertility Research LRP: Research on conceiving and bearing young; and,
  • Clinical Research for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds LRP: Available to clinical investigators from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Applicants must apply for the LRP that best fits their research goals. Researchers may apply as early as the final year of medical or graduate school and are encouraged to apply again if their initial application is not successful. In FY 2013, the overall success rate for LRP applicants was approximately 50%, while the success rate for new applicants was 39% and the success rate for renewal applicants was 67%.

Researchers who receive an initial LRP award may apply for subsequent, competitive renewal awards until their qualified educational loans are entirely repaid. Because the application requires several elements, such as a research statement, loan information, and recommendations, applicants are strongly encouraged to visit the LRP website to learn what loan documents they need to gather and how to prepare and respond to the various online forms. The application can be accessed at Applicants also can call the LRP Information Center between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Eastern time Monday through Friday at 866-849-4047 or send an email to

SAMHSA: Researchers Invited to Apply for Access to Confidential Data

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has invited researchers and qualified research organizations to apply for remote access to confidential data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) through SAMHSA’s Data Portal. Research projects should propose use of one or more of the following datasets:

  • DAWN 2004–2011 Emergency Department data
  • DAWN 2003–2010 Medical Examiner data
  • NSDUH 2004–2013 (All data)
  • NSDUH 2008–2012 Adult Clinical Interview data.

The Data Portal is a secure virtual computing environment facilitated through SAMHSA’s Data Archive. It is designed to provide authorized researchers with access to confidential data for approved research projects.

The goal of the Data Portal is to maximize the use of data collected for important research while conforming to federal law and protecting identifiable data from disclosure.

Applications are being accepted between November 15 and December 15, 2014. To learn more, go to

CMCS: Agencies Release Bulletin on Medication-Assisted Treatment

The Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS), in partnership with a number of other federal agencies, has issued a series of informational bulletins on effective practices to identify and treat mental health and substance use disorders (SUDs) covered by Medicaid. According to the CMCS, nearly 12 percent of Medicaid beneficiaries over age 18 have a substance use disorder, and the bulletins are intended to help States effectively serve those individuals.

A bulletin released by CMCS on July 11, 2014, focuses on the use of FDA-approved medications in combination with evidence-based behavioral therapies, commonly referred to as Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), to help persons with SUDs recover in a safe and cost-effective manner. Specifically, the Bulletin provides background information about MAT, examples of state-based initiatives, and useful resources to help ensure proper delivery of these services. Other Federal agencies partnering in the bulletin include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The bulletin can be accessed at