Diversion Control Division, US Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration

National Conference on Pharmaceutical and Chemical Diversion

June 16 & 17, 2010 — St. Louis, Missouri


The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Office of Diversion Control, sponsored the 19th National Conference on Pharmaceutical and Chemical Diversion, June 16-17, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri. In addition to DEA personnel, participants included representatives from 28 states who are responsible for policy-level regulatory drug control or operational law enforcement concerning the diversion of legally manufactured controlled substances and regulated chemicals.

The purpose of this national conference was to bring together officials who focus on pharmaceutical and chemical diversion issues at the state level to meet with DEA counterparts. Participants had the opportunity to share their knowledge and experiences as well as discuss current trends, regulatory control, and enforcement strategies.

Conference Report

Scott Collier, Diversion Program Manager, opened the conference on behalf of the DEA St. Louis Division. Mr. Collier welcomed the group and gave a brief overview of the Diversion Control Program and its role with state and local law enforcement officials.

Denise Curry, Deputy Director, DEA Office of Diversion Control, spoke of how pharmaceutical diversion is being discovered among our youth in middle class and affluent communities. She highlighted a DEA operation that had dismantled a high school drug ring involving pharmaceutical diversion and discussed the issue of doctor shopping. Ms. Curry encouraged communication and cooperation among all levels of law enforcement to address the problem of abusing pharmaceutical controlled substances.

Mark Caverly, Chief of the Liaison & Policy Section, served as the master of ceremonies. After everyone introduced themselves, Mr. Caverly made administrative announcements and introduced the various speakers.

Lenny Levin, Staff Coordinator in the Regulatory Section, gave an overview of the section and explained the responsibilities of this section.

The morning session concluded with a panel of experts discussing Prescription Monitoring Programs (PMPs). The panel consisted of Rebecca Rose, Policy Advisor, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Department of Justice, who explained the Harold Rogers Grant program. Nicholas Reuter, Senior Public Health Analyst, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Department of Health and Human Services, spoke on prescription drug abuse and the National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting (NASPER) grant program. James Giglio, Executive Director, Alliance of States with PMPs, provided a history of PMPs and explained theAlliance's goals to support the enhancement of current PMPs and to begin the process of sharing information among states.

In the afternoon session, Stacy Harper-Avilla, Chief of the UN Reporting & Quota Unit, gave a presentation on current drug and chemical scheduling actions.

Mark Caverly, Chief of the Liaison & Policy Section, provided information on the interim final rule for electronic prescriptions of controlled substances. He also gave updates on the following issues: disposal of controlled substances, retail provisions related to the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act, removal of certain thresholds, dispensing to residents in long term care facilities, and changes to information on a schedule II prescription.

A subject matter breakout session was held to give attendees time to discuss with DEA personnel specific topics with the experts. The three topics available for discussion were: Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, DATA waived practitioners, and Long Term Care Facilities.

Roxanne Franckowski, Senior Forensic Chemist from the DEA Special Testing and Research Laboratory, provided information about how the DEA laboratory system assists in the identification of drugs and related compounds. She also discussed drug trends that the laboratory has identified.

Elton Malone, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Health & Human Services, spoke on how drug diversion and health care fraud often go hand-in-hand. He explained the elements of this type of crime and talked about the individuals involved in these schemes from the prescribers to the pharmacists to the patients. He explained that billions of government and private insurance dollars are being paid out as a result of drug diversion schemes.

Day two of the conference began as Lisa Robin, Senior Vice President of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) provided an overview of the FSMB organization and its mission. Ms. Robin explained how FSMB has prepared a model that many states are using to pass laws that define pain clinics. They strive to find the line between legitimate medical practice and criminal behavior using experts, technology, and shared information and then provide that information to the states so that laws can be put in place to protect the general public. Louisiana, Texas and Florida are the most recent states to initiate new regulations related to pain clinics.

Gayle Lane, Group Supervisor, DEA Miami, discussed the issues with pain clinics in Florida and the struggles they are encountering with diversion, abuse, crime, and fraud.

Eric Rausch, Special Agent, DEA Houston, explained behind-the-scene details of a Houston investigation that started with a lead and resulted in the arrest and conviction of two doctors who were diverting drugs.

Duane Stickles, Staff Coordinator in the DEA Pharmaceutical Investigations Section provided information about Tactical Diversion Squads (TDS) and their purpose in the divisions. He shared the history of their inception and development and ended his talk with some success stories involving the TDS.

Linden Barber, Associate Chief Counsel in DEA's Office of Chief Counsel, stressed the importance of using all of the tools in our arsenals to stop diversion based on a state law, a federal law or an administrative action. Stopping the diverter even if it means convicting them on charges unrelated to diversion was the theme of his presentation. He cited statutes that can be used to stop diversion and provided clear information about what to look for in a diverting physician or pharmacists.

Maureen O'Keefe, Associate Section Chief in DEA's Synthetic Drugs & Chemicals Section, spoke about the requirement to regulate and limit the quantity of certain chemicals so they could not be used in the illegal manufacture of controlled substances. As with many illegal drugs, these substances are often manufactured overseas and international treaties and agreements are required to help control their flow. Ms. O'Keefe spoke of the trends that are being seen in this area.

Jason Grellner, Drug Task Force Commander in Franklin County, Missouri, provided details of pseudoephedrine issues plaguing his jurisdiction.

The conference ended with a presentation by DEA Special Agent Doug Collier of the New Jersey Division and Angelo Valente, Executive Director, Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. They provided logistical information about how their drug take-back program was conducted from inception to final disposal. The information was helpful as many entities across the country are considering similar programs.

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