As I was reviewing the public comments regarding the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) providing a much-needed update to the agency’s suspicious order regulations, I noticed a similar issue raised by multiple commenters. Apart from the myriad of comments and requests seeking greater clarity from DEA on several definitions and provisions,
DEA rolled out its proposed aggregate production quotas for 2021 earlier this week, the same day, in fact, that it proposed adjustments to its 2020 quotas. Let’s start off by looking at the Big Five, at least as far as the SUPPORT Act is concerned: fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, and hydromorphone.…
Continue Reading DEA Submits Proposed Quotas for 2021
With the filing of two class action lawsuits, one against Walgreens and Costco, and one against CVS, in two federal district courts on August 6, pharmacies find themselves in a perplexing situation (yet again). For these suits were filed not by those who suffered from the over-dispensing of opioids, but by chronic pain patients who were denied opioid medication by pharmacies.…
Continue Reading Lawsuits Filed Against Retail Chain Pharmacies: The Corresponding Responsibility Catch-22
In its ongoing efforts to ensure an adequate supply of controlled substances for the legitimate medical needs of the United States, DEA is granting a temporary exception to 21 C.F.R. 1307.11 – what industry commonly refers to as the 5% Rule.
The 5% Rule allows practitioners to distribute controlled substances without being registered as a distributor, if they fulfill certain requirements. In addition to the security and recordkeeping obligations, practitioners wishing to use the authority granted by the 5% Rule must ensure that the “total number of dosage units of all controlled substances distributed by the practitioner pursuant to this section … during each calendar year in which the practitioner is registered to dispense does not exceed 5 percent of the total number of dosage units of all controlled substances distributed and dispensed by the practitioner during the same calendar year.”…
Continue Reading DEA Announces Exception to 5% Rule
Note: The following is my best guess for what to expect in the coming year regarding controlled substance compliance obligations. I have relied on publicly available information, my experience and expertise with all things involving pharmaceutical controlled substance, and a Magic 8 Ball in creating the list below.
This is the year (I think) that DEA will publish a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) updating 1301.74(b). While industry is anxiously awaiting the new regulations, I fear that many will be disappointed. My best guess is that the new regulations will be more about changing the process for reporting suspicious orders and less about guidance for industry on the metrics to use for detecting suspicious orders. This is in part because Congress recently codified the existing definition of suspicious orders that has been in DEA’s regulations for decades, which takes away a great deal of DEA’s interpretative authority and discretion. There is also an argument to be made that DEA would prefer suspicious order guidance and definitions to be vague, providing the agency significant enforcement discretion.…
Continue Reading What to Expect from DEA in 2020 – One Guy’s Opinion
Is “Suspicious Order” about to be defined?
The recently-released DOJ OIG Review of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Regulatory and Enforcement Efforts to Control the Diversion of Opioids has met with extensive media coverage focused on the sexier aspects of the story. What did DEA do or not do to stem the opioids crisis? What internal battles may have led DEA to drop the ball in some aspects of the response? These are important questions, but they have been well-covered.
Instead, we are going to focus on a handful of the nine recommendations (listed below) made by the IG and DEA’s and ODAG’s responses.…
Continue Reading Problems Identified, Solutions Proposed: the OIG Review of DEA
DEA is out with its proposed 2020 aggregate production quotas for Schedule I and II controlled substances, and they have been reduced dramatically from 2019’s numbers. From the press release:
DEA proposes to reduce the amount of fentanyl produced by 31 percent, hydrocodone by 19 percent, hydromorphone by 25 percent, oxycodone by nine percent and oxymorphone by 55 percent. Combined with morphine, the proposed quota would be a 53 percent decrease in the amount of allowable production of these opioids since 2016.”
How’d They Get There?
Why the size of the decrease? Aside from the obvious political pressures attendant to legitimate concern over the proliferation of the opioid crisis and, perhaps, some less-legitimate political posturing, the DEA cites the usual factors and a significant new one. As always, DEA consults “many sources, including estimates of the legitimate medical need from the Food and Drug Administration; estimates of retail consumption based on prescriptions dispensed; manufacturer’s disposition history and forecasts; data from DEA’s internal system for tracking controlled substance transactions; and past quota histories.”
Last week was an active week when it comes to marijuana policy. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced that it will begin considering (and approving?) applications to allow for the manufacture (growing) of marijuana for research purposes. Shortly thereafter, United States Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams (Dr. Adams), issued an advisory regarding the significant adverse effects of marijuana use by adolescents and by women during pregnancy. Both developments could foreshadow the long road ahead for marijuana legalization advocates seeking DEA’s removal of marijuana from its listing as a schedule I controlled substance.
Continue Reading DEA and the Surgeon General Issue Statements Regarding Marijuana
On February 21, 2019, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), New Single-Sheet Format for U.S. Official Order Form for Schedule I and II Controlled Substances (DEA Form 222). This is the agency’s second attempt at bringing the DEA Form 222 into the 21st Century. In 2007, the agency issued a similar NPRM, but never published a Final Rule.
The current NPRM not only changes the format of the 222, but also proposes “minor procedural changes.” Below is a summary of some of those changes.
After a brief hiatus, DEA Chronicles is back. As always, I will be keeping you informed on changes in the relevant laws and regulations and how these may impact your business. But, as regular readers know, we go beyond simple reporting. DEA Chronicles identifies DEA enforcement trends. We engage in policy analysis across the spectrum of issues involving controlled substances. What regulatory approaches best combine an effective strategy for combating diversion with a workable framework for the various actors in the pharmaceutical industry? What are the best practices designed to ensure compliance? What are the red flags that should alert companies to potential problems within their organizations? We explore these and all other questions regarding the enforcement of controlled substance laws and regulations.
So why the hiatus? The answer is simple and, for me at least, kind of exciting. After six and a half years with Quarles & Brady, I am pleased to announce that I have moved the DEA Litigation and Compliance practice to my new firm, Cote Law PLLC. I bring to my DEA practice a unique set of experience and skills. For one, I worked at DEA at a management level in the enforcement area. I know my way around the agency. I know how it operates and how it thinks. It is one thing to read a statute or a regulation. It is another to understand how the people at the agency approach the enforcement of these laws.