21st National Conference on
Pharmaceutical and Chemical Diversion
November 14-15, 2012
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Office of Diversion Control, sponsored the 21st DEA National Conference on Pharmaceutical and Chemical Diversion, November 14-15, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Attendees included approximately 40 representatives from various state and local government law enforcement and regulatory agencies. The purpose of this national conference is to educate state and local regulatory and law enforcement personnel on current trends and issues involving pharmaceutical controlled substances and DEA regulated (listed) chemicals. State and local representatives also had an opportunity to interact with DEA representatives to discuss issues or concerns on behalf of their state or region. This conference is held on an annual basis and is one of the mechanisms used by the Office of Diversion Control to foster communication and cooperation with its state and local counterparts.
James V. Allen, Associate Special Agent in Charge (ASAC), DEA Detroit Field Division, welcomed the attendees and thanked them for their participation in the conference and for their cooperation with DEA. ASAC Allen discussed current issues and concerns involving the diversion of pharmaceutical controlled substances and gave a brief overview of the topics that would be presented at the conference.
Cathy Gallagher, Section Chief, Liaison & Policy Section, DEA HQ, served as the master of ceremonies. Ms. Gallagher made administrative announcements and introduced the various speakers.
Alan Santos, Associate Deputy Assistant Administrator, DEA HQ, provided information on three different topics during the morning session:
Prescription Drug Abuse & Trafficking Trends
Synthetic Drug Abuse & Trafficking Trends
Elizabeth Scott "Scotti" Russell, Government Affairs Manager, National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), provided information about prescription monitoring programs (PMP) that are now legislated in all but one state and are operational in many states. She provided statistics on the use of PMPs and their effectiveness. She also discussed NABPs PMP InterConnect program which facilitates the transfer of PMP data across state lines to authorized users.
Chris Menendez, Attorney, DEA HQ, gave an overview of legal issues and administrative actions taken against DEA registrants under the United States Code (USC). She talked about the nuances of conducting investigations and in prosecuting diversion cases. She also provided illustrations from published cases of the indicators of diversion by doctors and pharmacies.
James Arnold, Unit Chief, Regulatory Unit, DEA HQ, spoke about regulatory issues. He discussed the mission statement of the DEA Office of Diversion Control as well as the duties and responsibilities of the Regulatory Unit. The first day of the conference concluded with four regional breakout sessions: These breakout sessions provided an informal atmosphere to share problems, concerns, experiences, and advice with colleagues in the law enforcement and regulatory community. Each group was asked to discuss the trends they see in their region and what assistance they need from DEA.
The second day of the conference began with summaries from the Regional Breakout Session. A spokesperson from each region shared the issues, trends, and needs that were discussed in the breakout sessions.
Erika Gehrmann, Diversion Investigator, DEA HQ, provided information on quota and drug shortages. Ms. Gehrmann started her presentation by explaining the law that requires DEA to establish quotas and the parameters within which DEA must function. She defined some terms within the law and detailed several different types of quotas that DEA must establish.
Russell Holske, Section Chief, Pharmaceutical Investigations Section, DEA HQ, presented information related to pain clinic investigations and the Tactical Diversion Squads (TDS) that have been established to work diversion cases. Mr. Holske provided statistical information about the drug trends being seen around the country. He talked about a couple of actual cases and how they were investigated and prosecuted.
Christopher Kresnak, Diversion Investigator, DEA Cincinnati, Ohio Resident Office, provided an overview of a pain doctor case that was successfully prosecuted in Ohio. The doctor was charged with 1 count of conspiracy, 13 counts of illegal distribution, two counts of firearms, four counts of drug house, and 11 death counts. Mr. Kresnak provided information about how the doctor operated and how the investigation and trial were conducted.
Lisa Roberts, Registered Nurse/Public Health Nurse, Portsmouth City, Ohio Health Department, provided a presentation about how the residents of Scioto County, Ohio had successfully banded together to rid their county of the rogue doctors and drug dealers that had infested their community. Ms. Roberts explained that it took a great effort from the citizens of their community to accomplish this task.
Anthony Hart, Special Agent, DEA Syracuse, New York Resident Office and Carl Eurenius, Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA), Northern District of New York, gave a presentation about how they prosecuted a pseudoephedrine "smurfing" case.
Miriam Shields, Special Agent, DEA Orlando, Florida District Office, and Courtney McCrae, Special Agent, USDA Forest Service, provided information about a case involving illicit methamphetamine production in Ocala National Forest in Florida that resulted in the arrest of 40 individuals.
Terrence Boos, Chemist, Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section, DEA HQ, gave a presentation on drug scheduling actions. Dr. Boos discussed the types of scheduling actions and illustrated a general scheduling flowchart. He reviewed scheduling actions in process and petitions for scheduling currently under evaluation. He also explained concerns and availability of designer drug products. He spoke of the dangers of synthetic cannabinoid use as well as the emergency scheduling of these products by DEA. Dr. Boos gave a comprehensive overview of the abuse of synthetic cathinones "bath salts," including the administration and adverse health effects as well as case reports of overdoses and deaths involving these products.
Cathy Gallagher, Section Chief, Liaison & Policy Section, DEA HQ, gave an overview of policy issues within DEA's Diversion Control Program. Ms. Gallagher provided information about electronic prescribing of controlled substances and she explained the Pharmacy Diversion Awareness Conferences that DEA has hosted throughout the country. Ms. Gallagher spoke briefly about pre-populated prescriptions and the disposal of controlled substances issue.
A second subject matter breakout session was conducted in the afternoon of the second day. The topics available for discussion for this breakout session included policy issues, rogue pain clinics, and drug scheduling and regulatory issues.
The conference concluded with closing remarks by Ms. Gallagher.