DEA Issues Final Ruling on Drug Disposal Act

The DEA’s final ruling regarding drug disposal became effective October 9, 2014. The ruling states that nurses may no longer “waste” a patient’s medications. The nurse can only “assist” the ULTIMATE USER in the disposal of medications, including controlled substances.


The new Drug Disposal Act provides:

  • “If a person dies while lawfully in possession of a controlled substance for personal use, any person lawfully entitled to dispose of the decedent’s property may deliver the controlled substance to another person for the purpose of disposal under the same conditions as provided” for ultimate users.

Although any method of disposal that was valid prior to these new regulations continues to be valid, three additional options for the ULTIMATE USER to dispose of the substance are permissible:

  1. Drug Take Back Events in your community
  2. Mail Back Programs
  3. Disposal in Drug Collection Receptacles in your community.

For more information, see the patient guidelines for drug disposal on FDA website.