After the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) issued a rule in 2014 that prohibited many healthcare providers from handling a patient’s unused medications, hospice providers were powerless to help families safely dispose of dangerous controlled substances when a loved one passed. Hospice staff educated families about safe disposal methods, but were not permitted to help families at a time when drug disposal was the last thing on their minds.

In an effort to help families during this stressful time, PHA worked in collaboration with the State Attorney General’s office to distribute free drug deactivation pouches to hospices across the Commonwealth to help them with safe disposal. But members needed more – a survey showed that 96% of hospices wanted the ability to dispose narcotics.

PHA providers took action to draft and pass into law a bill that now permits nurses to dispose of a patient’s unused prescription medications. Thanks to PHA’s relationships with key legislative leaders like Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), this bill made the difficult journey from concept to final passage in just under six months. This is a great step forward for helping grieving families do the right thing and helping address Pennsylvania’s opioid addiction crisis.

*Courtesy of Pennsylvania Homecare Association