The abuse of prescription drugs has become one of America’s most serious and fastest growing public health issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 44 persons die each day as a result of fatal overdoses from prescription opioids. Of the 22,767 deaths attributed to prescription drug overdoses in 2013, more than seven in ten (71.3%) involved opioid painkillers while more than three in ten (30.6%) involved benzodiazepines. In 2013, among persons aged 25 to 64 years, drug overdoses caused more deaths than motor vehicle accidents.1

Federal and state agencies are working hard to reduce these alarming statistics but they cannot succeed without the active support of the public and, most of all, those in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries who manufacture, distribute, prescribe and dispense controlled medications.

Keeping abreast of federal regulations affecting registrants can be a daunting experience for a drug manufacturer, wholesale distributor, chain or independent pharmacy, hospital, and individual or group practice prescriber. A report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in June 2015 noted that regulatory compliance lapses by commercial registrants are often the result of flawed communications between the registrant community and DEA that, in turn, produces a poor understanding of the law. The lack of knowledge of what the law requires, the GAO report noted, may cause registrants to become overly cautious and needlessly restrict supplies and patient access to certain medications.2

[1] See: http://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/overdose.html.

[2] General Accountability Office. (June 2015). Prescription Drugs: More DEA Information about Registrants’ Controlled Substances Roles Could Improve Their Understanding and Help Ensure Access. Report No. GAO-15-471; Washington, D.C.

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