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

National Conference on Pharmaceutical and Chemical Diversion

June 14 & 15, 2011 — Fort Worth, Texas


The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Office of Diversion Control, sponsored the 20th DEA National Conference on Pharmaceutical and Chemical Diversion, June 14-15, 2011 in Fort Worth, Texas. Attendees included approximately 50 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.

Conference Report

Denise Curry, Deputy Director, Office of Diversion Control, DEA HQ, welcomed the attendees and thanked them for their participation in the conference and for their cooperation with DEA. Ms. Curry 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, Acting Section Chief, Liaison & Policy Section, DEA HQ, served as the master of ceremonies. Ms. Gallagher made administrative announcements and introduced the various speakers.

Duane Stickles, Staff Coordinator, Pharmaceutical Investigative Unit, DEA HQ, discussed pharmaceutical drug trends and the growing problem of rogue pain clinics, particularly in the state of Florida. He explained drug abuse trends such as the most commonly abused drugs among the teenage population versus adults throughout the nation. He also provided statistics regarding the states with the highest dispensing rates for hydrocodone and oxycodone. Finally, Mr. Stickles gave information about other emerging trends in pharmaceutical drug abuse and diversion.

Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, Professor of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco and Medical Director, Physicians' Clinical Support System-Buprenorphine (CSAT/SAMHSA), discussed issues involving the dispensing and prescribing of buprenorphine products to opioid-dependent individuals. She began her presentation by providing an historical perspective of opioid use disorders, expounded on opioid dependence maintenance therapy, and spoke of concerns of diversion of buprenorphine. Dr. McCance-Katz concluded her presentation by highlighting the importance of opioid addiction treatment and relayed concerns by DATA-waived physicians regarding certain DEA regulations and practices.

Fred Paris, Group Supervisor, DEA Houston, gave a presentation on DEA Tactical Diversion Squads (TDS). Mr. Paris outlined the type of personnel involved with the Houston TDS and highlighted recent successes by the Houston TDS. He provided the locations of operational TDSs throughout the United States and discussed the nationwide problem of pharmaceutical controlled substance abuse. Finally, Mr. Paris stressed some of the challenges faced by TDS units throughout the nation.

Kyle Wright, Unit Chief, Targeting & Analysis Unit, DEA HQ, talked about Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System (ARCOS) targeting. Mr. Wright explained the mission of his unit and the ways in which his unit supports diversion investigations. He informed the conference attendees about how ARCOS works and the types of data that can be derived from it. Mr. Wright showed the audience sample ARCOS charts illustrating drug trends in certain geographical areas.

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. Additional topics highlighted by Mr. Arnold include DATA-waived physicians, drug theft or loss reporting, controlled substance ordering system (CSOS), suspicious order reporting requirements, corresponding responsibility of pharmacists, and the Regulatory Unit's efforts in targeting and shutting down rogue pain clinics.

The first day of the conference concluded with three subject matter breakout sessions: Regulatory Issues/DATA-waived physicians, Pain Clinics, and DEA Tactical Diversion Squads. The conference participants attended the breakout session of their choice. These breakout sessions provided an informal atmosphere to share problems, concerns, experiences, and advice with colleagues in the law enforcement and regulatory community.

The second and final day of the conference started with Cathy Gallagher, Acting Section Chief, Liaison & Policy Section, DEA HQ, who gave an overview of policy issues within DEA's Diversion Control Program. Ms. Gallagher provided a policy update regarding allowable changes to a Schedule II prescription, a review of DEA's Statement of Policy regarding "Agent of a Practitioner," and an overview of DEA's current policy regarding the disposal of controlled substances. Finally, Ms. Gallagher extolled the results of DEA's 2nd National Take Back Day, April 25, 2011.

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.

Gary Gulledge, Task Force Officer, FBI Evansville, Indiana, talked about retail pharmacy thefts. Mr. Gulledge provided information about the investigation of a series of burglaries of small, locally owned pharmacies covering a tri-state area. This burglary case involving the theft of thousands of tablets of various controlled substances, predominantly oxycodone and hydrocodone. Mr. Gulledge discussed investigative techniques utilized by the FBI and other agencies involved in the investigation.

Bill Winsley, President, National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), presented prescription drug monitoring programs. Initially Mr. Winsley discussed the mission statement of the NABP, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, and the general mission of all licensing boards. He then segued into prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), including the purpose of PDMPs, law enforcement access to PDMP information, and provided some statistics gleaned from Ohio's PDMP, the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System.

Linden Barber, Regional Diversion Counsel, DEA Indianapolis, gave an overview of legal issues and administrative actions taken against DEA registrants under the United States Code (USC). He talked about the nuances of conducting investigations and in prosecuting diversion cases. He also provided illustrations from published cases of the indicators of diversion by doctors and pharmacies. Mr. Barber closed his presentation by detailing a recent Decision by a DEA Administrative Law Judge and the subsequent Order from the DEA Administrator regarding the revocation of a DEA registration from a physician due to the physician's "disregard of his obligations as a DEA registrant and Federal and state laws related to controlled substances."

Maureen O'Keefe, Associate Section Chief, Synthetic Drugs & Chemicals, DEA HQ, spoke about DEA regulated chemical issues. She mentioned methamphetamine and clandestine laboratory trends as well as methamphetamine production methods. She provided an overview of Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act requirements for retail sellers of products containing pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, or phenylpropanolamine and current methods of diversion of pseudoephedrine products. Finally, Ms. O'Keefe discussed new drugs of abuse such as synthetic cannabinoids and bath salts.

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 retail pharmacy thefts, drug scheduling actions, and prescription monitoring programs.

Barbara Carreno, Public Affairs Specialist, Public Affairs Section, DEA HQ, gave a presentation titled "Diversion Control and the Media." She talked about challenges that DEA and other drug regulators face with the media. She highlighted common misconceptions about DEA and specifically about DEA's Diversion Control Program. She then discussed media issues with specific DEA investigations and initiatives such as the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day and DEA's investigation of rogue pain clinics in the state of Florida.

The conference concluded with closing remarks by Ms. Gallagher and a question and answer session.

Emergency Disaster Relief
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Turn in your unused or expired medication for safe disposal here.
RX Abuse Online

Diversion Control Division  •  8701 Morrissette Drive  •  Springfield, VA 22152  •  1-800-882-9539

DOJ Legal Policies and Disclaimers    |    DOJ Privacy Policy    |    FOIA    |    Section 508 Accessibility