What is the DEA’s Position on Disposal of Pharmaceutical Waste in Healthcare Facilities?

The excerpt below is taken directly from 21 CFR 1300, 1301 and 1304 Disposal of Controlled Substances; Final Rule.“Existing DEA regulations do not specify a standard to which controlled substances must be destroyed. With this final rule, the DEA is implementing a standard of destruction—nonretrievable—for registrants that destroy controlled substances, and procedures for the destruction of controlled substances. 21 CFR 1300.05 (‘‘nonretrievable’’), 1317.90, and 1317.95. The DEA is not requiring a particular method of destruction, so long as the desired result is achieved. This standard is intended to allow public and private entities to develop a variety of destruction methods that are secure, convenient, and responsible, consistent with preventing the diversion of such substances. Destruction of controlled substances must also meet all other applicable Federal, State, tribal, and local laws and regulations. Once a controlled substance is rendered ‘‘nonretrievable,’’ it is no longer subject to the requirements of the DEA regulations.”

In plain language, it is up to the organization to develop processes and procedures to manage pharmaceutical waste in jurisdictions governed by DEA regulations. There is no test for compliance for determining if a drug is rendered nonretrievable so long as the desired result is achieved.