Retail Diversion of Legal Drugs:

A Major Problem With No Easy Solution

GGD-78-22: Published: Mar 10, 1978. Publicly Released: Mar 10, 1978.

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Because of the growing abuse of legitimate drugs and the potential for diversion by those who dispense drugs, an examination was made of the Federal and State preventive efforts at the retail level. Under the Controlled Substances Act, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is provided with extensive authority to register and regulate drug manufacturers and distributors but not practitioners. The Act authorizes the agency to register practitioners authorized under State laws to dispense and prescribe controlled substances. Security regulations for safeguarding drugs are virtually nonexistent, and the agency lacks statutory authority to establish stronger ones.

The Drug Enforcement Administration is trying to assess and upgrade State capabilities to evaluate practitioners. Its largest effort involves diversion investigation units composed of State investigators and Federal agents who emphasize criminal investigations of practitioners. From 1972 to June 30, 1976, about 1,200 arrests have resulted from the activities of 11 of these units. Two basic approaches to solving the problem are by strengthening the direct role of DEA or by continuing and accelerating the agency's role to help States carry the major burden.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should change the DEA role by authorizing it to either exercise direct regulatory authority over retail-level practitioners or implement grant programs for assisting States in controlling diversion. Because of the potentially great cost of a change in the DEA mission, the Attorney General should study the costs and benefits of these approaches or any other method to combat this problem.


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