“The take away is that as long as prescriptions are written in good faith based upon an examination of the patient, and if the doctor has established a legitimate medical purpose, there is no reason for concern,” said Lynch.
Explore This IssueOctober 2012
Diversion Occurs All Along Supply Chain
“Diversion can happen at so many places along the chain,” said Rusty Payne, a spokesman for the DEA drug diversion program in Washington, D.C. “People think it is just a doctor issue or a pharmacy issue, but it is that and much more.”
Specific to the diversion of narcotics, it can take the form of patients who “doc shop,” pharmacy theft and stolen prescription pads. Payne noted that around 70% of all abusers get their pills from friends or family.
He also stressed that the focus of the diversion project is not to stand between the patient and needed pain help. Much of their work involves inadequate record keeping and is dealt with administratively.
“It is important to understand that the laws are also there to protect the physician,” he noted. “We are law enforcers and do not get involved in legitimate doctor/patient relationships or decisions made about medical treatments.”
If physicians think there may be diversion problems occurring in their practice, they can contact the area DEA office and ask for the Office of Diversion Control. They can also visit www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov or call 1-800-882-9539.
According to a 1999 article published by the DEA, some of the signs of drug abuse and possible diversion of narcotics include patients who:
- Demand immediate attention;
- Have an unusually deep knowledge of controlled substances;
- Frequently give a medical history with textbook symptoms or a vague medical history;
- Have no family doctor or health insurance;
- Request a specific drug and are reluctant to take or say they have an allergy to other options;
- Fail to keep appointments for further diagnostic tests or refuse to see another specialist;
- Have cutaneous signs of abuse such as track marks or related scars on the body;
- Must be seen right away, often near the end of or after normal office hours; and
- Need a replacement for a prescription that has been lost or stolen.
For the physician, there are certain things to look for when evaluating sources for medication supply. Physicians must first check to see whether or not the potential vendor is licensed by the appropriate federal and state authorities. If there are doubts, contact the maker of the medication to confirm that you are dealing with an established source of the company’s product.