Controlled substances play a critical role in veterinary medicine, helping to treat various medical conditions in animals. However, these substances are heavily regulated due to their potential for abuse and misuse. In this blog, we’ll explore the key Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulations that veterinary practices need to follow and highlight the importance of compliance through relevant statistics.

DEA Regulations for Veterinary Practices

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 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 methods.

Why Compliance Matters: The Statistics

Failure to adhere to DEA regulations can result in serious consequences for veterinary practices, 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 record-keeping 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, emphasizing the need for proper security measures and staff training.

Ensuring Compliance and Protecting Your Practice


Understanding and adhering to DEA regulations is essential for protecting your practice, staff, and patients. Here are some 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 record-keeping, 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.