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

As you are likely aware, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has created a COVID-19 Information Page to “assure that there is an adequate supply of controlled substances” during the current public health emergency associated with the coronavirus. DEA previously published guidance regarding telemedicine and Medication Assisted Treatment, where the agency granted certain exceptions to regulatory requirements.

In the past few days, DEA issued additional guidance regarding other areas of concern brought to the agency’s attention by the regulated industry.  Below is a quick summary of that guidance:


Continue Reading DEA Issues Additional Guidance in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

It appears that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is on the cusp of publishing a new regulation in the next few weeks, with two more to follow in the coming months.  This is based on notifications received by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the government’s final review authority for Executive Branch regulations.

Continue Reading DEA Poised to Roll Out Three Regulations in the Coming Months

On January 30, 2020, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released the 2019 National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA).  The 152-page publication “outlines the threats posed to the United States by domestic and international drug trafficking and the abuse of illicit drugs.”  Of specific relevance to readers of DEA Chronicles, the report also discusses the abuse and misuse of controlled prescription drugs (CPDs).  While I encourage you to read the entire report, here are a few key takeaways regarding CPDs:
Continue Reading 2019 National Drug Threat Assessment: Key Takeaways

On January 20, 2020, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its report Drug Control: Actions Needed to Ensure Usefulness of Data on Suspicious Opioid Orders.  The report, mandated by Congress in the SUPPORT Act, focuses almost exclusively on the need for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to beef up its capabilities for analyzing the vast amount of data provided to DEA by registrants. GAO’s investigation revealed, among other things, that DEA conducted “limited proactive and robust analysis of industry reported data” and that DEA did not have the appropriate data governance structure in place to manage drug transaction data.
Continue Reading DEA Signals that Substantive SOM Guidance is Not Likely Forthcoming

Quota Reductions

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.”


Continue Reading DEA Proposes Decreasing Opioid Quotas for 2020

As I have previously written, there is a long list of regulatory changes coming from DEA in the next few years.  Rather than publish one or more of the long overdue regulations listed on DEA’s Regulatory Agenda, on April 30, 2019, the agency will publish a Final Rule creating a “discretionary review” process allowing the Administrator to review an Administrative Law Judge’s (“ALJ’s”) denial of a request for an interlocutory appeal.  Note that this is a Final Rule, not a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.  The agency was able to bypass the traditional notice and comment rulemaking process by categorizing this rule as a Rule of Agency, pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act.  As such, the rule is effective immediately.

Requests for interlocutory appeals can take many forms in a DEA administrative proceeding.  Often, they are a result of a procedural or evidentiary ruling by an ALJ during the prehearing process.  DEA regulations currently give ALJs broad authority to rule on a request to seek an interlocutory appeal.  The ALJ’s decision to deny a request for an interlocutory appeal is not reviewable.  Until now.


Continue Reading Does the New Rule on Interlocutory Appeals Undermine the Independence of DEA’s ALJs?