Last Revised: February 20, 2024


The University of Pennsylvania is committed to performing innovative research of the highest quality. In certain circumstances, this research may involve the use of a controlled substance. As a matter of policy, the University requires compliance with all applicable federal and state regulations and guidelines regarding the use of a controlled substance(s) by the Investigator/Researcher and those involved in performing the research. For more information on this policy, click here.


General Information:

The purchase, use, storage and disposal of controlled substances is regulated by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).  Detailed information relating to controlled substances can be found online at

New for 2022!  This Researcher’s Manual has been prepared by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), as a guide to assist researchers, who are authorized to conduct research with schedules I-V controlled substances, in their understanding of the Federal Controlled Substances Act and its implementing regulations as they pertain to their profession.  Note that this new document mentions on-site destruction as one possible option for drug disposal and EHRS recommends that the instructions below are followed for drug disposal through our reverse distributor  The university is not set up to incinerate drugs onsite and this is currently the only method that DEA has approved for onsite destruction.

List of controlled substances:

If you are unsure whether or not the substance(s) you have is regulated as a controlled substance, refer to the online lists at the DEA website. There are five schedule lists of controlled substances which can be viewed either by schedule or alphabetically.

Management of Controlled Substances:

Additional guidance on working with and managing controlled drugs can be found on the IACUC website.

Disposal procedures:

DEA regulations now require expired or unwanted controlled substances to be sent through a Reverse Distributor for disposal.  Destroying drugs onsite or dumping them down the drain is expressly prohibited by the DEA. 

EHRS and the Office of Animal Welfare (OAW) host periodic CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES DISPOSAL EVENTS.   Keep an eye on the EHRS homepage for announcements of the next disposal event.  A licensed reverse distributor will be onsite to accept your unwanted materials.  This event is free of charge but you must register by submitting an electronic drug transfer form one week prior to the event.    

If you require additional information please contact Jim Crumley, EHRS Sr. Compliance Manager at 215-746-5036.

The DEA's Philadelphia Field Division contact information can be found at the link below: