Use of Controlled Substances in Animals


Controlled Substances are chemicals, pharmaceutical agents, etc., that have been identified by the United States Department of Justice/Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as having the potential for abuse.  These substances have been categorized by the federal government into five “schedules”, or categories based on their medicinal use and potential for abuse.

Schedule Categories:

Schedule 1 - drugs with little or no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse (e.g., heroin, LSD)
Schedule 2 – drugs with a high potential for abuse and potential for physical or severe psychological dependence (e.g. morphine, codeine)
Schedule 3 – drugs with lower potential for abuse than Schedule 1 or 2 agents, but with the potential for physical or psychological dependence (e.g. combination drugs such as Vicodin® and Tylenol® with codeine, anabolic steroids)
Schedule 4 – drugs with lower potential for abuse than Schedule 3 agents (e.g., diazepam, midazolam)
Schedule 5 – drugs with lower potential for abuse than Schedule 4 agents – primarily combination products containing limited amounts of codeine (e.g., cough syrup)

Controlled substances most commonly used in vertebrate animal research are:

  • Ketamine – an anesthetic agent (schedule 3)
  • Sodium pentobarbital – anesthetic/euthanasia agent  also known as Nembutal®, Euthasol®, etc. (schedule 2)
  • Buprenorphine – a narcotic analgesic (schedule 3)
  • Butorphanol – an analgesic (schedule 4)

For a complete list of Controlled Substances, visit the DEA website

Requirements for Use of Controlled Substances

UCI abides by the University of California Policy BUS-50 regarding the acquisition and use of controlled substances, including ordering, delivery, record-keeping and disposal procedures.

Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) provides oversight for the use of controlled substances at UCI.  A summary of requirements is listed below:

  • Authorization:  Principal Investigators must have an approved Controlled Substance Use Authorization (renewal is required annually).
  • PurchaseAll controlled substances must be purchased through the Purchasing Department under UC Irvine’s institutional or the school’s departmental DEA research registration. . NOTE: A purchase requisition is required, even if the drugs are being provided by the vendor without charge.
  • StorageControlled substances and the records of their use must be kept securely locked, with access limited to only those individuals specifically authorized to use them.
  • Records & DocumentationA detailed log must be kept to record and account for all use of controlled substances.
  • Disposal
    • Controlled substances which have expired or are no longer needed by the laboratory, as well as all empty vials, must be returned to the EH&S Controlled Substance Program Coordinator for disposal. A copy of the completed Controlled Substances Log must accompany all opened vials. Submit a Request for EH&S Controlled Substance Pick Up
    • DO NOT discard or dispose of controlled substances in the trash or down the drain!

For more information about controlled substance use here at UCI, please consult the EH&S Controlled Substances page.