WASHINGTON, D.C. ― For 45 days in February and March, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration surged its enforcement and administrative resources to identify and investigate prescribers and pharmacies that dispensed disproportionately large amounts of drugs.
The ultimate goal of the surge was remediating or removing those whose actions perpetuate the controlled prescription drug crisis in America, particularly opioid drugs.
During that period, the DEA surged the efforts of special agents, diversion investigators, and intelligence research specialists to analyze 80 million transaction reports from DEA-registered manufacturers and distributors, as well as reports submitted on suspicious orders and drug thefts and information shared by federal partners, such as the Department of Health and Human Services. This resulted in the development of 366 leads to DEA field offices, 188 of which (51 percent) resulted in active investigations by DEA’s 22 field divisions.
“DEA will use every criminal, civil, and regulatory tool possible to target, prosecute and shut down individuals and organizations responsible for the illegal distribution of addictive and potentially deadly pharmaceutical controlled substances,” Acting DEA Administrator Robert W. Patterson said. “This surge effort has demonstrated an effective roadmap to proactively target illicit diversion of dangerous pharmaceuticals. DEA will continue to aggressively use this targeting playbook in continuing operations. Attorney General Sessions and the Department of Justice have provided tremendous leadership and support in this critical mission. We must stop the loss of our loved ones to these drugs.”
The culmination of those investigations was 28 arrests, 54 other enforcement actions including search warrants and administrative inspection warrants, and 283 administrative actions of other types. These additional actions included scheduled inspections, letters of admonition, memoranda of agreement/understanding, surrenders for cause of DEA registrations, orders to show cause, and immediate suspension orders (the immediate revocation of registrations).
DEA works with various federal and state partners on data sharing agreements to enhance its ability to identify individuals and companies who are contributing to the prescription opioid crisis, including a coalition of 41 state attorneys general and the Department of Justice’s Opioid Fraud and Detection Unit, an initiative of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. It is also dedicating additional resources to its domestic divisions to carry out investigations.