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Changes to OCS policy on destructing narcotics and controlled drugs

July 27, 2016

The Office of Controlled Substances (OCS) policy for destructing narcotics and controlled drugs has changed. Although the information has not been updated on the Health Canada website, the following information has been provided to pharmacists who have requested permission to destroy narcotics and controlled drugs:

Health Canada no longer requires pre-authorization requests for local destruction of unserviceable narcotics and controlled drugs. This means pharmacists may proceed with destruction without notifying or receiving acknowledgment from Health Canada in advance.

Local (on-site) destruction is one option available to pharmacists and persons in charge of hospitals when destroying unserviceable narcotics and/or controlled drugs. Importantly, any record or written order requiring retention under the regulations made under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA), or any relevant CDSA exemption, must be retained for auditing compliance pursuant to sections 41 and 64 of the Narcotic Control Regulations and sections G.03.011 and G.05.002 of Part G of the Food and Drug Regulations.

1. Before any destruction, the pharmacist should record information with respect to the destruction, including the destruction date, name, strength per unit and quantity of the controlled substance to be destroyed. This information should be kept for a period of two years. Beyond the two-year period, it is up to the hospital administrators, pharmacists or practitioners to determine if these records should be kept for a longer period based on other regulatory requirements such as provincial or professional practice regulations.

2. The pharmacist should destroy the drugs in the presence of another health professional. Both witnesses should record their names and destruction date on a statement indicating they witnessed the destruction. For these purposes, a health professional could be a pharmacist, practitioner, nurse, pharmacy intern, pharmacy technicians (in those provinces where they are registered with the pharmacy licensing authority) or an inspector from the provincial pharmacy licensing authority.

3. The controlled substance should be destroyed using a method of destruction that conforms with applicable federal, provincial and municipal environmental legislation.

4. The controlled substance should be altered or denatured to such an extent that its consumption has been rendered impossible or improbable. For the regulatory requirements for the destruction of benzodiazepines and other targeted substances, please refer to sections 2, 55 and subsection 65(1) of the Benzodiazepines and Other Targeted Substances Regulations.

Pharmacists and persons in charge of hospitals who do not wish to destroy narcotics or controlled drugs on site may, through an exemption under section 56 of the Controlled Substances and Drugs Act, sell or provide these substances, to a licensed dealer who is licensed to destroy narcotics or controlled drugs.