DEA Controlled Substances Disposal

The DEA provides guidance on the proper disposal of controlled substances. Based on DEA guidance, Emory University has a policy that covers the proper use and disposal of controlled substances for non-human subjects research. At this time, a DEA registered reverse distributor must be used to properly dispose of controlled substances.

The DEA registration holder (registrant) is responsible for making sure that all controlled substances are properly disposed of when:

  • The substances expire,
  • the Registrant’s DEA registration is not renewed, or
  • when the Registrant no longer conducts research at Emory University using controlled substances or leaves Emory University.

The registrant must establish an account with an approved reverse distributor vendor, and arrange with the DEA registered reverse-distributor to accept and dispose of controlled substances.

The registrant should keep:

  • A biennial inventory of controlled substances in his/her possession,
  • the order, receipt and shipping records for materials in inventory, and
  • any records evidencing disposition of the substances for three years (current year plus two years) from date record was created.


Reverse Distributors* that Emory researchers have used for disposal of controlled substances:

EXP Pharma

Burke Horton, Inc. D/B/A The Rx Exchange

*The Environmental Health and Safety Office does not endorse individual vendors, products or services.

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  1. Ronald Griffith
    Posted July 6, 2017 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    This clearly covers EHSO on advising registrants of Emory Policy. However, I have tried to contact an extensive list of re-distributors in the past without any success. I only know of one person in our department to successfully use one and it was extremely expensive. Has anyone in EHSO been involved with drug redistribution? I thought we had resolved the issue with having the Georgia agency take back our expired drugs. This was a great service to the University, simple and cost effective. It worked great for years.

    Why are we not having the Recovery Day as before? I have heard comments that it was “too much trouble”. That is not a valid reason to discontinue. Most everything we do regarding compliance can be “troublesome” but we do it anyway.

  2. awhitt3
    Posted July 19, 2017 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Hi Ronald,
    Unfortunately some of the regulations changed and we don’t foresee being able to have the Drug Take Back Day as we had in the past. We are working with the regulatory bodies and will, of course, keep the community updated if we are able to reinstate it. If you have further questions, feel free to email Scott Thomaston in Environmental Compliance.
    Alaina Whitton

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