Controlled Substances Act

The COVID pandemic notwithstanding, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Department of Justice and other federal and state agencies continue to actively pursue and prosecute pharmacies, pharmacists, doctors and others in the industry for violations of the Controlled Substance Act, False Claims Act and other controlled substance-related crimes.

I’ve compiled news reports on such cases from the last two months, confirming that prosecuting health care fraud and illegal distribution of controlled substances continues to be top of mind for law enforcement.


Continue Reading Active Prosecution Continues for Controlled Substance Violations

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, there appears to remain a misunderstanding of using the 5% rule for distributions amongst practitioners.

Continue Reading Confusion Persists with the 5% Rule

Update: DEA has reopened the comment period for the proposed rulemaking from February 25, 2021, until March 29, 2021.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) published its long-awaited Notice of Proposed Rulemaking  (NPRM)  regarding suspicious orders of controlled substances. This will likely be the most heavily scrutinized rule issued by DEA this year. Registrants impacted by this rule should submit comments by March 29, 2021.
Continue Reading DEA Creates Two-Option Framework for Reporting Suspicious Orders

Prescription and magnifying glassWith 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

Theft and Loss Reporting

On July 29, 2020, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) related to the reporting of thefts or significant losses of controlled substances.  Specifically, DEA proposes two changes to the reporting process:
Continue Reading DEA Proposes Changes to Theft/Loss Reporting and Finalizes New Registration Fees

On June 5, 2020, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) received an Interim Final Rule from the Drug Enforcement Administration titled, Implementation of the SUPPORT Act: Dispensing and Administering Controlled Substances for Medicated-Assisted Treatment.  This rule implements certain provisions of the SUPPORT Act “relating to the expansion of medication-assisted treatment providers and to the delivery of a controlled substance by a pharmacy to a practitioner.”
Continue Reading OMB Has a Backlog of DEA Regulatory Actions

A little more than 10 years ago the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued an Interim Final Rule with Request for Comment regarding Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances (EPCS).  The Interim Final Rule became effective on June 1, 2010.  DEA received over 200 comments but never issued a Final Rule.

On April 21, 2020, DEA issued a second Interim Final Rule regarding EPCS, this time re-opening the comment period to obtain additional feedback from industry.  While this is a somewhat unorthodox approach, it is a prudent step toward finalizing the EPCS rule.
Continue Reading DEA Re-Opens Comments for EPCS

In response to issues raised by the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (“HDA”), earlier this week the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) published additional guidance for DEA-registered distributors on the agency’s COVID-19 Information Page.  Among other issues previously addressed by DEA, the recent guidance addresses suspicious order monitoring and conducting due diligence on customers.
Continue Reading DEA: COVID-19 Does Not Relieve Distributors of Certain Compliance Obligations

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