Medication Waste Guidance
Publish June 2019
The end of the school year is here, and once again school nurses 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 in its new Guidance on Medication Waste. This 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.
In particular, I want to highlight the guidance on Controlled Substances/Scheduled Medications as an area of concern. 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.
Remember, the safe disposal of medications and infectious waste can prevent drug diversion and protect the environment. We appreciate you doing your part to keep our schools safe and our environment clean.
More DEA Drug Disposal Information.