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

ABOUT US > DEA Meetings & Events > Methadone Alert Conference > November 13 & 14, 2008; Nashville, TN

Methadone Alert Conference

November 13 & 14, 2008; Nashville, TN


Evidence suggests that the illicit use of methadone in the United States is a growing public health problem, resulting in a dramatically increasing number of deaths in recent years. As part of a response to this public concern, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) hosted state and local law enforcement personnel at a conference held in Nashville, TN to consider abuse and diversion issues with methadone. The increase in methadone overdoses and deaths has pain, regulatory, health and law enforcement officials facing a quandary: how to stop methadone abuse without curtailing its valuable uses.

Methadone has become increasingly popular in recent years as a low-cost and effective pain-management tool. In addition, methadone is used effectively to treat opioid addiction. In most states with increased methadone deaths, the methadone being abused appears to be tablets prescribed for pain. It is clear that increased sales have made these opiate analgesics more available, and ARCOS data demonstrate increased prescribing of this drug. As a result, more of the opiate analgesic is available increasing the potential for abuse. The recently published Florida Medical Examiners' report directly associates methadone with an increase in fatalities, however, data on abuse and diversion methadone still remains a question.

Attached are the agenda and PowerPoint slides presented by the speakers at this meeting and some of the discussion points raised with participants. Expert speakers addressed a range of topics related to methadone awareness, providing attendees with an overview of the methadone mortality epidemic; side effects of methadone and the potential hazards with a worsening risk-benefit balance with over-treatment and/or abuse; legal perspectives; and the challenges and issues facing diversion of methadone. Individuals from 26 states participated in the conference. Participants at the conference described practices and strategies used by Opioid Treatment Programs, State Methadone Authorities (SMA), along with the federal, state and local law enforcement response to the issue of methadone overdoses, referring specifically to oversight efforts and investigative techniques.

The conference goal was to encourage awareness and initiate response to the methadone issues particular to their states. Participants were encouraged to communicate with, and inform public agencies, utilize prescription monitoring programs, and partner with Federal agencies to address the dramatic rise in methadone deaths. Many of the questions still remain unanswered with regard to these deaths. By raising awareness, Federal agencies such as the DEA and ONDCP/NMCI hope to yield better information on the sources of diversion of methadone implicated in overdose deaths.


Day 1

Thursday November 13, 2008

8:30 am – 9:00 am Welcome & Conference Objectives
Tony Loya, National Coordinator, NMCI
Denise Curry, Deputy Director, DEA Office of Diversion Control
David Murtaugh, Acting Deputy Director, State, Local & Tribal Affairs,

Administrative Matters/Logistics
Mark Caverly, Chief, DEA Liaison & Policy Section
9:00 am – 9:30 am DEA Overview
Dr. Christine Sannerud, Chief, DEA Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section
Dr. Srihari Tella, Pharmacologist, DEA Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section
9:30 am – 10:15 am Methadone Mortality
Margaret Warner, Ph.D., Epidemiologist
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, National Center for Health
Mark Schrieber, Pharm. D., University of Florida, College of Pharmacy
10:15 am – 10:30 am BREAK
10:30 am – 11:00 am Treatment Issues & Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT)
Nick Reuter, Senior Public Health Analyst, SAMHSA, CSAT
11:00 am – 11:30 am State Methadone Authority, Tennessee
Allison Harvey, Pharm.D., TN State Methadone Authority
11:30 am – 12:15 pm Legal Perspectives
Linden Barber, Associate Chief Counsel Diversion and Regulatory
Litigation Section, DEA
12:15 pm – 1:30 pm LUNCH (at participant's expense)
1:30 pm – 2:00 pm Panel Discussion
(Panel: Drs. Sannerud, Tella, Warner, Mark Schrieber & Nicholas Reuter,
Allison Harvey, Linden Barber)
2:00 pm – 2:45 pm Tennessee State Perspective
Charles Whitson, Investigator, Department of Health
T.J. Jordan, SAC, TN Bureau of Investigation
2:45 pm – 3:00 pm BREAK
3:00 pm – 3:45 pm West Virginia Methadone Diversion Case Overviews
Sgt. Mike Smith & Sgt. Jose Centeno, West Virginia State Police
Jeff Wallenstrom, Staff Coordinator, DEA Office of Financial Operations
3:45 pm – 4:30 pm Houston Pain Clinic Case Overviews
Michael Dellacorte, DEA Tactical Diversion Squad D-13, Houston
Christopher Grush, Acting Chief of the Pharmaceutical Investigations Unit
Office of Diversion Control, Pharmaceutical Investigations Section, DEA
4:30 pm – 5:00 pm Summary/Wrap Up

Day 2

Friday, November 14, 2008

8:30 am – 9:15am American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD)
Mark Parrino, President American Association for the Treatment of Opioid
9:15 am – 10:00 am Pain Management & Practice
Kenneth Kirsch, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist & Assistant Professor,
University of Kentucky
10:00 am – 10:15 am BREAK
10:15 am – 11:00 am The Role of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs in Diversion and
Pain Management
Katherine Ellis, Manager, CA Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement
11:00 am – 11:45 am Ohio State Board of Pharmacy
Danna E. Droz, RPh, JD Prescription Monitoring Program Administrator,
Ohio Board of Pharmacy
11:45 am – 12:00 pm Closing Comments/Adjourn


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

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