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Medication Waste Guidance


Publish June 2019

At the end of each school year, school nurses often find themselves with bottles of leftover medication that have not been picked up by the rightful owner. Since this is an issue many schools are dealing with the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have worked together to provide clear and accurate information regarding medication disposal for public school districts and accredited nonpublic schools. The Iowa School Hazardous Waste and Medication Management Guidance highlights four categories of medication and waste for management in the school setting, which include: Controlled Substances/Scheduled Medications, Hazardous Pharmaceutical Waste, Infectious Waste, and Nonregulated Medications.

An area of particular concern is the disposal of controlled medications. Many schools and school districts have a school employee, such as a school nurse, transport controlled substances/scheduled medications to a local pharmacy or take-back program for destruction. However, under the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, school personnel do not have the legal authority to deliver controlled substances to registrants for the purpose of disposal on behalf of the ultimate user. 79 Fed. Reg. 53520, 53546 (Sept. 9, 2014). Furthermore, putting the employee in a position to cart these medications around in their vehicles puts them in a compromising legal position. Thus, the Department recommends that schools and school districts work with their school resource officers or local law enforcement to pick up the medication and transport it for destruction or disposal.

The safe disposal of medications and infectious waste can prevent drug diversion and protect the environment. Find out more on the United States Drug Enforcement Administration 's Drug Disposal Information webpage.


Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on September 30, 2022 at 2:25pm.