Controlled Substances in Research

Controlled Substances Announcements

Effective May 15, 2024, Xylazine is considered a controlled substance in Pennsylvania. Click here to read the notice.


Penn State policy RP13 governs the use of controlled substances in research. The Office for Research Protections helps investigators and the University maintain compliance with federal regulations and requirements governing the use of controlled substances in research. Our assistance for controlled substances of any Schedule includes:

  • Helping investigators identify requirements for the registration and use of controlled substances
  • Helping investigators maintain compliance with policies the University may issue for controlled substances
  • Monitoring and tracking investigators' Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registrations
  • Notifying investigators about registration expirations
  • With Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), helping faculty and staff identify and dispose of orphaned substances and substances with lapsed or no registrations

The University does not obtain or maintain DEA registration for investigators. Investigators are responsible for obtaining and maintaining registration directly through the DEA.


The disposal costs for controlled substances are paid for by the University. To arrange for the disposal of controlled substances by an individual with a current DEA Registration, please contact Environmental Health and Safety,

The process for disposing of orphaned or abandoned controlled substances, i.e., substances without proper registrations, is different than that for those held under a current DEA Registration. For questions about the disposal of orphaned or abandoned substances, contact either the Office for Research Protections ( or call 814-865-1775) or Environmental Health and Safety ( or call 814-865-6391).

Location Changes

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.


Useful Forms & Resources

Registrants who perform research using controlled substances are required by the DEA to complete an inventory every two years, however, it is recommended to complete one more frequently. See section 1304.11 of the DEA Implementing Regulations for detailed inventory requirements. The Controlled Substances Receipt Log can be used to track substances as they are acquired, and the Biennial Physical Inventory Form can be used to keep track of quantities of substances on hand as they are used. All forms are linked below:

DEA Information

All persons ordering, storing or using controlled substances must be registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). See the following DEA resources for more information:


Listed Chemicals (e.g., Iodine)

Some substances used in research are not controlled substances, i.e., not scheduled per the DEA. However, they may be considered DEA listed chemicals because they are precursors to other, controlled substances. One common example is iodine, which is sometimes used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. As a result, handlers of iodine must be registered with the DEA. Persons or labs wishing to purchase iodine or other listed chemicals may be asked by the vendor to complete a form, which will then be used by the vendor to track sales of the listed chemical. Forms of this nature generally need to be completed by the Office of Purchasing Services. If you are unsure what to do with a form related to a DEA listed substance, contact either the Office of Purchasing Services, or the Office for Research Protections for help.

Cannabis Research

Individuals wishing to conduct research on cannabis should first review the following guidance document:


For general questions about use of controlled substances in research, please contact ORP Controlled Substances program staff by email at or 814-865-1775.