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President Obama signed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act  (S. 3397) on October 12, a bill that would allow states and private entities to create programs to collect and safely dispose of unwanted prescription drugs. S. 3397 would amend the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) to allow a user of a legal pharmaceutical to deliver the drugs to another person for disposal as long as the disposal is handled in a way that will keep the drugs from being diverted to another user. The bill is largely intended to keep drugs away from users to whom they are not prescribed, but it will have the added benefit of keeping them from being sent to a landfill or flushed away, which can result in pollution of drinking water. Currently, there are no legal means to transfer possession of certain prescription drugs.


S. 3397 Summary:

·         Amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an ultimate user of a controlled substance (or, if deceased, any person lawfully entitled to dispose of the ultimate user's property) who has lawfully obtained such substance to deliver that substance to another person, without being registered, for disposal if: (1) the person receiving the controlled substance is authorized to engage in such activity; and (2) the disposal takes place in accordance with regulations issued by the Attorney General to prevent diversion of controlled substances.

·         Requires the Attorney General, in developing regulations under this Act, to consider the public health and safety, as well as the ease and cost of program implementation and participation by various communities.

·         Permits the Attorney General to authorize long-term care facilities to dispose of controlled substances on behalf of ultimate users who reside, or have resided, at such facilities in a manner that will provide effective controls against diversion and that is consistent with public health and safety.

·         Directs the United States Sentencing Commission to review and, if appropriate, amend its guidelines and policy statements to ensure an appropriate penalty increase for persons convicted of a drug offense involving receipt of a controlled substance for disposal.