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DEA (Narcotics) Pharmaceutical Waste

DEA (Narcotics) pharmaceutical waste includes controlled substances, such as morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, diazepam, lorazepam, zolpidem, and more.  These substances must be shipped and transported in accordance with DEA regulations for packaging, inventory, and transport.  Different types of pharmaceutical wastes carry different risks and are governed by different sets of regulations, but these pharmaceuticals are considered the most dangerous and the disposal process has been a bit of a gray area since the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires businesses, including healthcare facilities, to safely manage their hazardous pharmaceutical wastes from the moment they are generated to when they are appropriately disposed, as dictated by The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, more commonly known as RCRA.  This act includes a list of chemicals that have properties of being hazardous, combustible, explosive, or corrosive.

The DEA’s Rule for the Disposal of Controlled Substances, which implements the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, authorized the DEA to develop and implement regulations that outline methods to transfer unused or unwanted pharmaceutical controlled substances to authorized collectors for the purpose of disposal.

Controlled substances that are expired, excess, and unwanted must be disposed of according to DEA regulations.  For example, controlled substances in their original container which need to be disposed of should remain in the original container with the volume recorded. Facilities need to use the proper disposal form.

DEA controlled substances must also be disposed of through an authorized Reverse Distributor.

Reverse distributors are companies licensed and permitted to recycle and/or destroy controlled substances, such as Red Bags.  Proper use and disposal of DEA controlled substances is the responsibility of the individual holding the DEA registration used to obtain them.

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