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Controlled drugs licences

What are controlled drugs? 

Controlled drugs are substances that may or may not be used for medical treatment, but their possession, use and supply are subject to legal restrictions to prevent them causing harm, being misused, or being obtained illegally. 

Controlled drugs are subject to control under the Misuse of Drugs legislation, and licences may be required for their production, possession or supply. Every summer, a request is issued for information on these licences for risk management purposes. 

University research schools/departmentsrequire licences for either: 

a) The possession or supply or production of controlled drugs as listed in Schedule 1 drugs.

b) The production of controlled drugs as listed in Schedules 2, 3, 4 Part I, 4 Part II or 5.

University research schools/departments are exempt for requiring a licence for the possession and supply of controlled drugs in schedule 2 to 5 of the Misuse of Drugs legislation.  

More information on licences for controlled drugs is available from the Home Office. 


Import of controlled drugs 

When the substance is controlled in the country of origin but not in the UK, a “no objection letter” for its import is required from the Home Office. Please cc’d the in these emails for information. 


Destruction/Disposal of controlled drugs 

The destruction or disposal of controlled drugs should only take place in the presence of, and in accordance with any directions given by, an authorized person. If a waste disposal company is to be used, you are required to ask them for a copy of their “Home Office controlled drugs licence” for your records. (NOTE: they might be authorized to collect hazardous chemical waste but they require a specific licence to collect controlled drugs). For more information contact the Regulatory Compliance Team. 


Closure statement 

If you no longer require a controlled drugs licence, you need to submit a closure statement to the Home Office. Please contact the Regulatory Compliance Team and notify them of your intention to relinquish the controlled drugs licence before contacting the Home Office. 


What legislation applies? 

It is the responsibility of anyone who plans on disposing controlled drugs to do so in accordance with the applicable legislation. You cannot use the standard waste contractor to dispose of these chemicals. The contractor collecting them must hold a special licence to receive them.  Contact the Regulatory Compliance Team for advice before the disposal of such material.

Issued: 22 May 2017; Last reviewed:  May 2023; Next review: May 2024