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DEA clarifies drug waste disposal rules

November 03, 2014

by Kelly Soderlund

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration wants to clarify how health care practitioners should dispose of drug waste.

In September, the DEA issued a final rule about the disposal of controlled substances by DEA registrants and ultimate users. Among the options, the rule stated that hospitals and clinics with on-site pharmacies could have collection receptacles or voluntary mail-back programs in accordance with the rule.

Following the rule's publication, the DEA learned that some health care practitioners misunderstood how they should dispose of drug waste. For example, if a dentist or physician gave a patient a shot and there was leftover substance in the syringe, how should they go about disposing it?

The DEA sent a letter to health care practitioners Oct. 17 stating that the remaining substance should be properly recorded, stored and destroyed in accordance with DEA regulations and all other applicable laws and regulations. "The DEA registrant shall not place such remaining, unusable controlled substance in a collection receptacle as a means of disposal," according to the letter.

The link is available here. Those with questions about the rule can contact their local DEA field office or the DEA Office of Diversion Control, Liaison and Policy Section at 1-202-307-7297.