|Disposal and Destruction of Controlled Substances|
Information provided by Barbara J. Ahern, Esq.
NYSVMS Legal Counsel
There are specific New York State rules for the destruction of controlled substances that are undesired, deteriorated, obsolete, or for any reason, no longer needed. The Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement in the NYS Department of Health recommends that whenever possible, controlled substances should be returned to the licensed distributor or manufacturer from whom the controlled substances were purchased. Distributors and manufacturers are required to accept full packages of controlled substances still in the sealed containers, but can decide whether or not to accept partial containers.
If the distributor or manufacturer from whom the drugs were purchased will not accept the controlled substances, they can be surrendered to a reverse distributor approved and licensed by the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement to accept controlled substances for disposal. A list of approved reverse distributors is available from the BNE at:
DEA registrants, such as veterinarians, with unneeded, deteriorated or obsolete controlled substances that they no longer want, are encouraged by the NYSDOH to return those drugs to the manufacturer or distributor or to use a reverse distributor as the preferred method of disposal of controlled substances.
Any licensee disposing of a controlled substance by returning it to a distributor or manufacturer or delivering it to a reverse distributor must maintain a written record of the controlled substance, the amount returned, and the date of return. The licensee must keep a record of the name, address and DEA registration number of the person making the return, and the name, address and DEA registration number of the company accepting the controlled substance.
In advice issued to DEA registrants in November 2010, NYSDOH acknowledged, "In the rare event that either of these methods is not practicable, approval for destruction may be requested from BNE.” BNE is still authorized to grant approval for on‐site destruction in accordance with Section 80.51 of the regulations of the Department of Health (10 NYCRR). The proposed method of destruction must render the controlled substance totally unrecoverable and beyond reclamation.
NYSDOH regulations contain the following requirements and conditions for approval to destroy
controlled substances onsite:
In the past, flushing controlled substances or discarding them down the drain was considered the best way to dispose of drugs scheduled for destruction, but that is no longer the case. In 2008, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation began a public awareness campaign, "Don’t Flush Your Drugs” to raise public awareness of the hazards of flushing any pharmaceutical.
Due to increasing awareness about the potential effects of pharmaceuticals on aquatic life, in surface water and groundwater, including water used for human consumption, NYSDEC now recommends some other method of disposal in households, in healthcare facilities, in pharmaceutical establishments, and in any other facility where controlled substances are used.
Veterinary hospitals with a DEC‐permitted incinerator that is rated for incineration of pharmaceuticals may be able to obtain permission from NYSDOH for disposal by incineration. Veterinarians who wish to propose on‐site incineration as the method of disposal should check with NYSDEC in advance to ensure that the incinerator they wish to use is rated for incineration of these pharmaceutical products.
If a veterinary hospital has access to an off‐site incinerator rated for incineration of pharmaceuticals, incineration at an off‐site incinerator can be proposed, but NYSDOH will want to see a plan for all logistics associated with the incineration, including inventorying, transporting and witnessing the destruction.
Federal legislation passed in August 2010 authorizing the federal Environmental Protection Agency to adopt federal rules for disposal of pharmaceuticals may also result in additional guidance to facilities such as veterinary hospitals on approved methods of disposal for controlled substances.