University of Pittsburgh

Specialized Purchases

Will advertisements that were previously paid on disbursement be required to have a PO number?

For small dollar, routine, less complex, advertisements such as job postings in newspapers, professional magazines and other online posting services that will not accept the University’s professional services agreement, departmental buyers should obtain a quote and place a PRISM purchase order.

For advertisements more complex than a simple job posting and less than $5,000, each departmental buyer should review the facts and circumstances and consider whether a professional services agreement is required, or whether it can simply be handled through a purchase order in PRISM.

For larger dollar, more complex advertising, especially when the scope of work involves significant design, a contracted service agreement should be executed.  Therefore, any advertising greater than $5,000 should come through Purchasing.

How do I order material from American Type Culture Collection (ATCC)?


All orders to ATCC must be initiated by a University of Pittsburgh Principal Investigator. Please note that all ATCC orders are provided to the University subject to the terms of ATCC's Standard Material Transfer Agreement (MTA).

Departmental purchasers must issue purchase orders directly to ATCC for all bio-safety level one (BSL1) type biological materials valued at less than $5000. The Principal Investigators or End-user’s full name, title, and contact information must appear in Notes to Supplier for each purchase order in PRISM. The ‘Ship to’ person’s name should match PI/End-user person whose contact information is listed in  Notes to Supplier. BSL1 orders for less than $5000 received at Purchasing Services will be returned to the department for order placement.


  • It is the Principal Investigator’s responsibility to determine the bio-safety level (BSL) of each item.

  • Only ATCC items to be ordered should be listed on the requisition to Purchasing Services.

  • All ATCC item descriptions and catalog numbers should be listed on the requisition and on the MTA.


For all BSL2 or higher ATCC items, a paper requisition along with a completed Verification of Compliance with Material Transfer Agreement form (MTA) must be submitted to EH&S for approval. The Principal Investigator (PI) must be registered with EH&S. EH&S will forward approved orders to Purchasing Services for order placement.

How do I order from the Central Blood Bank?

To assist in the ordering of blood and blood products, Purchasing Services has negotiated a University contract with the Central Blood Bank. A procedure has been established to streamline the ordering process. 

How do I handle purchasing for building or room renovations?

All requests for renovations must be sent to Facilities Management.


What are the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania licensing requirements regarding ordering prescription (i.e., legend) drugs (including controlled substances) and devices for laboratory research?









Under the Pennsylvania Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act, researchers are authorized to receive prescription drugs and are exempt from registration or licensure as long as the research is within the scope of their professional approved research protocol. However, a licensed distributor must perform due diligence and obtain verification documentation to ensure that parties they ship product to are authorized to receive it. The University has consulted with a large distributor of prescription drugs and devices, Butler-Schein, and developed a “Certification of Exemption Memorandum,” which can be downloaded from: Researchers should complete this form, and the investigator’s Department Chair or Dean must sign the form to verify that they have a need to order prescription drugs. The signed form must then be submitted to the distributor, with a copy sent to Purchasing Services (3328 Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh, PA 15260).

Are there any University guidelines regarding controlled substances?

Yes, there are two resources:


How do I obtain a DEA license?

All principal investigators who desire to purchase, possess, and use controlled substances (Schedule I-V) for laboratory research must register, and maintain active registration, with the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

  • Principal investigators who hold a DEA registration for the clinical use of controlled substances should incorporate, into this same registration, the controlled substances that will be used for laboratory research being conducted under their direction.

How do I order ethanol alcohol?


Federal distribution and use of tax-free alcohol regulations are maintained by Purchasing Services. Departments ordering ethanol alcohol must be approved by and on the University’s permit issued by the US Department of the Treasury, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Currently, ethanol alcohol is not ordered on PRISM.  Paper requisitions should be sent to 3328 Cathedral of Learning.  Phone orders are not accepted.  Any questions pertaining to use, distribution or additions/changes to the permit should be directed to Purchasing Services. Additional information regarding the Storage and Handling of Flammable and Combustible Liquids is on the Environmental Health and Safety site.

Ethanol Alcohol Program Update Effective August 31, 2011

Why is Nembutal difficult to obtain?


Nembutal is no longer widely distributed in the U.S. H. Lundbeck A/S, a Danish company and the sole manufacturer of sodium pentobarbital (Nembutal), has sharply limited its distribution in the U.S. due to its controversial use as part of 'lethal injection'. The company disseminated the following press release regarding the situation:


The University’s provider of controlled substances, Butler Schein Animal Health /Henry Schein, has made assurances to the University that the company is actively working with H. Lundbeck to find a solution for making Nembutal available  for veterinary and animal research purposes.

Hieber's Pharmacy:  View this announcement for information on the availability of sodium pentobarbital through Hieber’s Pharmacy.



How do I order radioactive materials?

You may purchase radioactive materials using PantherBuy System. For details see University Purchasing of Radioactive Materials.

PantherBuy provides electronic approval via e-mail notification to the Radiation Safety Office (RSO), eliminating the need to hand-carry requisitions across campus. Once the RSO approves an order, it is electronically submitted to the supplier.

PantherBuy suppliers available for radioactive material are PerkinElmer, GE Healthcare Life Sciences (formerly Amersham), and MP Biomedical (ICN). They have supplied electronic versions of their catalogs to Purchasing including the negotiated University pricing. All radioactive products from these suppliers must be ordered through PantherBuy. Products from other suppliers will have to be requested on paper requisitions.



Though the online catalogs include non-radioactive products,

do not combine non-radioactive and radioactive items on the same requisition.


Can a department issue a PO for less than $5,000 for a software license agreement?









No.  Since nearly all software providers will not agree to the University’s standard terms and conditions, and there are possible intellectual property and “deemed export” liabilities that may far exceed the value of the license, ALL software license agreements should be executed by Purchasing with additional reviews by both CSSD and the Office of General Counsel.
















































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