Working with Controlled Substances? Important Reminders

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Office for Research Protections     |     Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) 


Researchers working with controlled substances (drugs, substances, and certain chemicals overseen by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) have additional obligations to maintain the integrity of their research and ensure they are in compliance with all federal regulations. Some important reminders for researchers: 

  • All persons ordering, storing or using controlled substances must be registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
  • DEA registration must be active before you can order a controlled substance, and the registration cannot expire during the entire time you possess the substances, up to and including proper disposal or proper transfer of the substance.  
  • Controlled substances can ONLY be transferred to another researcher with an active DEA registration covering the material being transferred. Proper documentation of the transfer MUST be maintained by both parties. Questions about proper transfer should be directed to your DEA contact (listed on your registration paperwork). 
  • Disposal of controlled substances should be coordinated with Environmental Health & Safety for proper processing with the University’s waste vendor. Contact Marian Kochin (mck5037@psu.edu) or Kevin Myers (klm146@psu.edu) in EHS for assistance. EHS is planning several disposal events this spring (beginning in April) – contact Marian Kochin for more information.
  • You must contact the DEA if your office/lab location changes, even temporarily. Your address information (located on your DEA registration) needs to be up-to-date with the current University address where you secure and handle the materials.  

    • If you change locations within the same University building, then you should call your DEA contact (listed on your registration paperwork) for prior approval and approval can be given over the phone. The agent will probably ask for pictures and some follow-up information but will not need to visit.  
    • If you are moving to a different University building, then a change of license address form will need to be submitted in advance of the move and the agent will need to visit the new location. Any change in location that lasts more than 30 days (e.g., when moving to “temporary” office space as your permanent space is under renovation), must be reported via a change in address form. DEA recommends emailing your DEA contact as soon as possible in advance of your move in order to start this process.

If you have questions about your research with a controlled substance, please contact Debra Thurley in the Office for Research Protections (djd116@psu.edu) or your DEA contact.