A Step-by-Step Guide to the Pharmacy Drug Return Process

October 19, 2018

A large part of your role as pharmacy technician is inventory management: helping to keep an accurate record of all the products your pharmacy has in stock. Overall, the goal of your pharmacy is to order and sell the right products to customers who will purchase and use them.

This means minimizing the quantity of unsalable products in your inventory by working with a third party to return expired products to your manufacturer or wholesaler for credit. The “drug return” process is also known as reverse distribution.

Often, this process is coordinated by a reverse distribution company, e.g., Pharma Logistics. This company takes your pharmacy’s unsalable, expired drug products, sends them back to manufacturers and/or wholesalers for credit, or disposes of them. This credit is given to your pharmacy.

Pharmaceutical Reverse Distribution Process

  1. The reverse distribution company sorts and batches products by manufacturer, wholesaler, and pharmacy. The company then calculates the return credit value of returnable products. This is based on the manufacturer or wholesaler product policies.
  2. Returnable products are sent to the manufacturer or manu­facturer’s processor.
  3. Controlled substances or hazardous waste are disposed of in compliance with applicable laws.
  4. After receiving the returned products, the manufacturer sends credit payments to the wholesaler, who then passes along payments to the reverse distribution company.
  5. The reverse distribution company then sends payments to the pharmacy.
    (Note: In some cases, some manufacturers will send credit payments directly to the pharmacy.)

To learn more about how to best manage your pharmaceutical returns process, download our handbook.

Download the Pharmacy Technician Handbook