How to Dispose of Controlled Substances

Per the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Pharmaceutical wastes classified by the DEA as “controlled substances” must be disposed of in compliance with DEA requirements. The Department recommends the following process to make controlled substance waste nonretrievable. Pills containing a controlled substance are crushed before placing the residue into a pharmaceutical waste container. Controlled substance that is remaining in a syringe is wasted into a pharmaceutical waste container before disposing of the syringe in a sharps container. Expired medications should be returned through a reverse distributor. Under no circumstances should any waste medication – including controlled substance waste – be disposed of down the drain or into solid or biohazardous waste.


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