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Back to School: Rx Cabinet Clean Out


Back-to-school shopping, prepping, and planning has begun for students, teachers, and administrators across the country. With an ever-expanding list of things to be completed before the official first day of school, concerns for medications may not seem at the forefront. However, there are upwards of 73 million children in the United States. Estimates put nearly 25% of those children with chronic health conditions that require medication to be taken during the school day.


Medication Responsibility

Administering medications to students once solely fell as a responsibility for the school nurse. In today's education world, often there are budget constraints that do not allow for a school nurse to be on-premises for the entirety of the school day. As a result, the dispensing of prescription medicines can fall to office staff, administrators, or other designated employees.


Leftover and Unclaimed Medication

By the end of the school year, many schools find their locked medicine cabinet is still stocked with expired or unused prescriptions that were not picked up by parents. Students during the academic year may have switched medications from the provider leaving their old prescription still under the supervision of the school. Often parents are too busy to come in at the end of the year to retrieve unused prescriptions especially if the child no longer takes that medication on a daily basis. Regardless of the reasons for leftover medications, the employee charged with the medications should follow the FDA guidelines for proper and legal disposal.



Policies for leftover medication vary by state and school districts, but the most common steps taken by schools are:



  • The school notifies parents in a letter at the beginning of the year explaining procedures.

  • A second letter is sent to parents at the end of the school year explaining the need to claim unused medication

  • A third communication in the form of a phone call or email to remind parents of the need to pick up unused medication and restate that medication not picked up will be destroyed.

  • Complete controlled medication log.

  • The designated staff charged with medication dispensing and an administrator must count unused medication prior to disposal and document the count.

  • All logs must be kept in the school office or nurse’s office for 5 years

After state and district procedures have been followed, leftover medication disposal must follow federal guidelines outlined by the DEA and EPA. Whether it is a school nurse or a designated staff member that handles the medications, this person is obligated to follow the law for proper medication disposal.


The end of the academic year is a very hectic time of year that includes closing duties, creating schedules for the upcoming year, finalizing grades, and so on...

The ongoing list can go on nearly indefinitely through the summer. Not to be outdone, the chaos of starting the school year is exciting for staff and students, but sometimes there were things not fully closed out from the prior academic year.


If the summer has flown by and you find your school is still stocked with medication from the last academic year or if you want to ensure that your unused prescriptions are disposed of in accordance with the law, then reach out to the experts at Cardinal Business LLC today

Call us today or connect with one of our experts to learn how we can be a part of your schools' proactive compliance for the proper and safe disposal of leftover student medications.



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