Is It Against The Law To Return Prescription Drugs There's No Alternative


Pharmacies dispense prescription drugs that are intended for specific individuals to treat specific issues. One of the questions that often arises when it comes to prescription medications is whether or not you can return the drugs back to the pharmacy. The answer to this question is often “yes,” but that also depends on whether the pharmacy’s policy allows it. In fact, whether prescription drugs can be returned and reused often depends on state and federal regulations.

Return and Reuse of Prescription Drugs

While prescription drug return and reuse is widely accepted in the pharmaceutical industry, things are different when drug providers want to return goods to manufacturers. In 2009, the National Association Boards of Pharmacy discussed this issue and noted that when it comes to return of drugs at a community level, there are different issues in play. The NABP states that there is an increasing need for charitable prescription drug return and reuse programs, which exist in the form of drug donation programs in states such as Ohio and Iowa. However, these programs mandate stringent protocols to make sure that the returned drugs are safe and clean for redistribution.

What Are the Protocols?

There are strict rules and protocols governing return and reuse of drugs for pharmacies. However, the average consumer should not have to go through a complicated process when it comes to this process. A different set of rules applies to online purchases compared to physical store locations. For example, some pharmacy chains such as CVS have it in their policy that they won’t take back returned prescription drugs sold online, but don’t have similar restrictions when it comes to in-store purchases of prescription drugs.

For pharmacists, the challenge lies not just in accepting the returned prescription drugs, but in redistributing the drug, whether it’s for sale or for charity. Doing so is not always legal. It is not easy to guarantee the integrity of a medication after it has been dispensed at a pharmacy. Some pharmacies have a no-return policy on prescription drugs simply because they don’t want to deal with these complex issues. As far as you, the consumer, is concerned, all you need to know is whether your pharmacy allows the return of prescription drugs.


Under California law, possessing a controlled substance without a proper prescription is illegal. Just as it applies to narcotics, it also applies to painkillers such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Xanax and codeine. However, individuals will face charges only if they did not have a valid prescription to possess the drug. This is often charged as a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to a year and court fines. In these cases, defendants may be able to complete a drug diversion program where they can undergo drug treatment instead of jail time.

If you are facing prescription drug charges, contact an experienced California drug crime defense lawyer who will remain on your side, fight for your rights and build a defense strategy that will help you obtain a positive outcome in your case.

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