Washington, D.C.— Congresswomen Deborah Ross (NC-02) and Virginia Foxx (NC-05) last week introduced the Reduce Exposure and the Threat of Unused Residual Narcotics (RETURN) Act. This bipartisan legislation will streamline drug mail-back programs by removing unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles that require distributors of unused drugs to destroy any returned drugs on-site. Through this legislation, distributors will be permitted to open and inspect packages before sending them to other locations for disposal, cutting costs and increasing the overall efficiency of mail-back programs.

“The opioid epidemic continues to claim thousands of lives every year, strain prevention and treatment efforts, and overwhelm health care providers in North Carolina and across the country,” said Congresswoman Ross. “We need a multi-faceted approach to combat this problem – from stemming the flow of dangerous narcotics to ensuring individuals are able to access the tools needed to reach recovery. Drug mail-back programs have been an essential part of preventing the abuse of unused opioids in our state. That’s why I’m proud to work with my North Carolina colleague, Congresswoman Foxx, to improve and streamline the process for disposing of returned drugs.”

“The Reduce Exposure and the Threat of Unused Residual Narcotics Act offers a commonsense approach to the destruction of unused opioids that will make it easier for consumers and manufacturers to keep opioids off our streets,” said Congresswoman Foxx. “This legislation was borne out of true bipartisan collaboration, and I’m proud to have worked alongside Representative Ross to bring it to fruition.”

Manufacturers often have drug mail-back programs and fund incentives for consumers to return unused opioids for destruction by providing something of value such as coupons or gift cards. They also typically cover mail or shipping costs. Once received, the reverse drug distributor then processes and destroys these drugs.

Current law does not allow reverse distributors to inspect packages that are part of drug mail-back programs, or to send off packages elsewhere for disposal. Instead, reverse distributors are required to destroy opioids on-site which can be expensive and logistically challenging. The RETURN Act would amend existing law so that reverse distributors can open and inspect packages that are part of drug mail-back programs to determine which manufacturer made the opioids and then send the drugs off to another location for disposal.