The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulates the purchase, use, storage and disposal of controlled substances. Detailed information relating to controlled substances can be found online at the DEA - Office of Diversion Control website.
A DEA controlled substance can only be obtained by those personnel or organizations that complete the DEA registration process and are approved by the DEA. The registration grants the PI or Department the authority to purchase and use DEA controlled substances according to the requirements as stated in their registration. Once a PI or Department obtains a DEA controlled substance, they have the responsibility (under 21 CFR 1304 ) to track the use, security and disposition of these substances. DEA enforcement personnel may ask a PI or department to account for DEA controlled substances listed in their registration. It is important to maintain all waste disposal records to allow for the accurate accounting of your DEA controlled substance.
Lists of Controlled Substances
The DEA has five schedule lists of Controlled Substances. These lists can be viewed by schedule or alphabetically. Refer to these lists if you are unsure whether or not the substance(s) you have is regulated as a controlled substance.
The regional office for the Philadelphia area has recently revised its procedures for the disposal of unwanted/expired controlled substances. These materials can no longer be disposed of by submitting DEA Form-41 and then using the onsite witness destruction procedure.
The new procedure involves sending unwanted materials to a licensed “reverse distributor” for disposal. A list of DEA Registered Reverse Distributors can be found here. Contact the DEA Philadelphia Field Division for the most recent, up-to-date list.
Contact the company of your choice and they will send you a drug ”return kit” that includes all of the appropriate paperwork and packaging needed to ship the materials to them. Disposal pricing will vary depending on the quantity of materials you have.
Copies of all disposal documents must be kept on file by the DEA registrant and be available for review.
Orphaned Controlled Substances
In situations when “orphaned” or abandoned DEA substances are discovered during lab clean-outs, transfers, etc... a concentrated effort must be made by the Department to determine how these substances were originally obtained. The original PI or Department that obtained these DEA substances is responsible for the proper disposal. Contact EHRS at 215-707-2520 if the original PI or Department is unknown or not available.