Manage Controlled Substances

September 2023 |

Know the ins and outs of DEA regulations to protect your practice.

Controlled substances play a critical role in veterinary medicine. These substances are heavily regulated because of their potential for abuse and misuse. Get up to speed on key Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulations with this backgrounder from PSIvet vendor partner CUBEX.

The DEA enforces the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which outlines the regulations for the use, storage and disposal of controlled substances in veterinary medicine. Here are some of the main DEA regulations that veterinary practices should be aware of:

  1. Registration: Veterinarians must register with the DEA to prescribe, administer or dispense controlled substances. This registration must be renewed every three years.
  2. Security: Controlled substances must be stored in securely locked and substantially constructed cabinets, with access limited to authorized personnel only.
  3. Recordkeeping: Accurate and up-to-date records must be maintained for all controlled substances, including inventories, receipts and usage. These records must be kept for a minimum of two years.
  4. Ordering: Schedule II controlled substances must be ordered using a DEA Form 222, while Schedule III to V substances can be ordered electronically or with a written invoice.
  5. Disposal: Unused, expired or unwanted controlled substances must be disposed of according to DEA guidelines, which may involve a reverse distributor, on-site destruction or other authorized method.

Why Compliance Matters: The Statistics

Failure to adhere to DEA regulations can result in serious consequences, including fines, loss of DEA registration and even criminal charges. The following statistics emphasize the importance of compliance:

  • A DEA study found that 37% of inspected veterinary clinics had discrepancies in their controlled substance inventories, highlighting the need for accurate recordkeeping and management.
  • Between 2014 and 2019, the DEA reported a 27% increase in the number of registrants (including veterinarians) who surrendered their DEA registration for cause, often due to violations of controlled substance regulations.
  • In a survey of veterinarians, over 60% admitted to having witnessed or heard of drug diversion within their practices, a finding that emphasizes the need for proper security measures and staff training.

Protecting Your Practice

Understanding and adhering to DEA regulations is essential for protecting your practice, staff and patients. Here are five steps you can take to ensure compliance:

  1. Stay informed: Keep up to date with any changes to DEA regulations and ensure all staff members are aware of the rules and responsibilities.
  2. Implement a controlled substance management plan: Develop a comprehensive plan that outlines the processes and procedures for handling, storing and disposing of controlled substances within your practice.
  3. Train your staff: Provide regular training for all staff members who handle controlled substances to ensure they understand the importance of compliance and the potential consequences of non-compliance.
  4. Conduct regular audits: Perform periodic audits of your controlled substance records and storage to identify and address any discrepancies or potential issues.
  5. Invest in inventory management technology: Utilize inventory management systems specifically designed for veterinary practices to streamline recordkeeping, improve security and ensure accuracy.

By staying informed about DEA regulations and taking proactive steps to ensure compliance, you can protect your veterinary practice from potential legal issues and provide the highest level of care to your patients.