DEA Meets with Pharmaceutical Industry to Discuss Prescription Drug Abuse

DEA Meets with Pharmaceutical Industry to Discuss Prescription Drug Abuse

A meeting between the DEA and representatives of the prescription drug supply chain in the US was held Monday with the goal of discussing ways to minimize pharmaceutical diversion while maintaining access to medicines needed for the treatment of chronic pain.

The meeting was spearheaded by the DEA’s Acting Administrator, Chuck Rosenberg, and DEA’s Office of Diversion Control’s Chief, Lou Milione.

“The pharmaceutical industry has a vital role on the front lines of preventing drug misuse and abuse across America, as do we, and we plan to work closely with them,” said Acting Administrator Rosenberg in a statement.  “Today’s forum helps us all to find the right balance between providing patients with important prescription medications and reducing the addictions, overdoses, and crimes that too often result from these substances falling into the wrong hands.”

“DEA is creating opportunities to interact with these companies about their roles and responsibilities under the Controlled Substances Act.  A clear understanding of each other’s goals and challenges better equips both of us to fight our country’s prescription drug abuse epidemic,” said Deputy Assistant Administrator Milione.

During the meeting, DEA outlined federal laws and regulations that affect the prescription drug supply chain.  Pharmaceutical representatives were provided the chance to ask questions and voice concerns about the regulatory environment and how the government making sweeping changes in how it views prescription opioids.

DEA highlighted in its press release the following data, which frames the government’s stance, “The abuse of controlled-substance medications is an epidemic in America today.  6.5 million people aged 12 and over abused these drugs in 2014, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013 someone died of an unintentional drug overdose every 13 minutes, and more than half of those overdoses were attributed to these medications.”

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Authored by: Staff

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Jean Price

Tim…I believe the Fiundation posted that article on FB. The problem I had with it was the negative graphics and a headline that would leave unthorough readers the impression that pain prescriptions were at fault. That’s actually opposite of what the article spells out, but unless your read the whole thing, I felt it was misleading. The general public doesn’t have the vested interest we do and much of the time they skin headlines or just read the first paragraphs. When we’re fighting a stigma, I think it’s extra important to be attentive to wording. Just my thoughts!

A question…does anyone know when and how the CDC became so active in pain treatment regulation? I’m just wondering what started them down this road, since they’re taking time away from other areas they would deal with…or perhaps just enlarging their staff budget and staff was the incentive. I’m really interested in why and how they’re working on this.

Tim Mason

I would like for the staff the review this article and report on it. It is an article about the 5 myths of heroin. It is by Maia Szalavitz. www://
A study of more than 75% of recreational opioid users in 2013/2014 got pills from other sources other than doctors. Of the 130,000 ER visits for opioid overdose, only 13% had a chronic pain diagnosis.
This article states that pain treatment is not at the root of the opioid problem and also that prescription drug abusers are not pain patients.

Jean Price

Sara…I thinks it’s hard to say where pharmaceutical companies stand..except for the dollar. If they have some new meds in the works, of course they would want to promote those over the existing meds on the market, so it might make some of them more willing to support government restrictions on the opioids available. And if their already marketed meds can be substituted (like the antidepressants and anti epileptics for nerve pain and the higher dollar NSAIDs), then they might have a vested interest in seeing opioid prescriptions drop, too. I’m not sure if there are other factors, yet political incentives, both specific and in general, would seem like a valid point for siding with the current government mindset. Someone else may have more specific/correct? information for you.

I believe big pharma is actually against the gov’t intervention that is radically reducing pain med prescriptions, but I could be wrong. Of course, they certainly are NOT doing it to help pain patients, but line their own pockets, but I believe we’re on the same side this time. Anyone? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Sheryl Donnell

Have the DEA first get good information from patients and statistics. The CDC and DEA both agree their stats are not valid. Both include overdoses by street drugs. They need to be looking at overdoses by actual long term chronic pain patients prescribed pain medication. I bet if they did, they would find there is NO PROBLEM AT ALL. The problem is with illegally accessed medication or street drugs. Leave chronic pain patients out of the cross hairs and treat the addicts who really need our help. You are harming people who need medication and doing nothing for addicts who need treatment. How much easier is this to figure out?

Mary krorr

I am a chronic pain suffer a chronic pain sufferer experiences enormous pain 24 hours per day when a pharmacist or Dr makes it difficult for them to get a prescription it destroys the person inside. You become very depressed and very scared that you may not have your medicine next month I work for Bank for 25 years and have never abused medicine the pain I experience every day makes me sometimes want to go to sleep until stay there please consider the people that are in pain there are so many of us that needs so much help we are in such pain and to think about this just makes it even more difficult for us thank you

Martha Arntson

Reading this article really made my anger flare a bit about the latest ongoings of the CDC, the DEA and how these new “laws” in prescribing Scheduled opiate drugs is starting to spill over into the mainstream practices of Pain Management. I have been in P.M. for the past 3-4 years. I use minimal medicine to control my pain on a daily basis. I recently requested a reduction in my dose of Percocet from 10 mg. 3xday to the 7.5 mg. 3x/day and we added a Butrans patch. I asked my doctor to reduce my dose based upon reading all the information that I could about addiction and dependency. I would urge anyone in Pain Management to try everything they can to keep medicines at a minimum. But, sometimes it’s not possible. There are so many different types of pain and degrees of severity. I feel the DEA/CDC/Pharmacological Intervention in the way Pain Management Clinics are being told to “lower or completely stop prescribing Opiate drugs” at the risk of losing their license to practice P.M. It is completely without merit for these Pharmaceutical Companies to be involved in the decision making process of how these drugs are flowing through the system. They, of all people, have one interest: MONEY. It’s the bottom line. There is NO other reason pill manufacturer’s were involved in any of this on-going nonsense! The Government wants control, the Companies who OWN the Government want control, the money shifts from the Big Pharma Companies to the Government, down to the Pharmacy dispensing itself. The little pharmacist can’t keep up with the Big Pharma anymore. I used to use a Medicine Shoppe, small franchised, locally owed. He couldn’t afford to fill my 90 percocet and make money with my insurance he said and that I would have to go back to CVS or Walgreens to fill them. I felt bad. Like why? Because the big pharmacies get PAID to dispense these (generic) drugs and the independent doesn’t. It’s a simple as that. The CVS’s can afford to COA because the Government allows it. Maybe a little off topic here but this epidemic is NOT CAUSED BY THE PEOPLE IN REAL PAIN, IN REPUTABLE PAIN MANAGEMENT CLINICS/OFFICES, it is caused by the DIVERSION of these drugs. I myself have counted my pills and come up short MANY TIMES AT CVS alone. What does that tell you? Diversion, start looking at WHO is the first to open the bottle of 100 and “log and secure them”?? Maybe they need to look at that instead of US.


Great Idea, Garrett Beyer (or something along that line)!!

If the DEA cared about “providing patients with important prescription medications”, the past two years wouldn’t have happened.

Christiane W Parsons

If the DEA really wants to help patients, they need to talk to the patients. They can talk to the pharmaceutical companies all they want. Those companies are only worried about making money. They could care less what happens to the patients taking their medication. The companies do not know a damp thing about the pain I live with every day, all day. They don’t know that more often then not I wish I was dead just so the pain can go away. They don’t know that their medication is no longer working for me but my PM doctor ( because he knows nothing about CRPS and has refused to even read the stuff I have printed out for him for several reputable sources ), because he is afraid of several things. What my PM doesn’t know is that I am afraid every day of not being able to handle the pain anymore. I am afraid that I will give up this fight and not get to see my kids grow up. If the DEA wants to really know how patients feel and what they need, the patients are the only ones with those true answers.

D Gambet

I experienced a Pharmacist alter my doc’s instructions and lower my daily amount which made me run out faster and insurance not pay for a refill until ten days had passed instead of the eight my script was written for. I was never the kind of person to wish ill on anyone but if someone gets in the way of my pain control, God forgive me, I wish long standing pain upon them. When you have to struggle to want to face another day in pain and wish you were dead at times just so it will stop, it is wrong for anyone to mess with that. NEWSFLASH: WE WOULD RATHER NOT BE IN PAIN AND HAVE TO TAKE NOTHING!!!WE DON’T CHOOSE THIS!!!

Jean Price

Having the DEA in the exam rooms with us might not be any worse…invite the pharmacists and the CDC and a few politicians also! Since they seem to be practicing medicine, without a license I might add. I really question the statistics in this report, since they are reported to count fentynal laced heroin as a prescription drug overdose when neither was legal or legally obtained. Several years ago, my family doctor (past tense) stopped any pain medication prescriptions, even though I had almost a ten year record of perfect compliance and documentation of my chronic pain health issues…and he said it wasn’t about me!! But it certainly was me who was affected! He didn’t want his office interrupted by searches and he blamed Michael Jackson’s overdose death! Odd how everyone but the patients and their doctors seem to know what’s best. The rise in addiction and overdoses has nothing to do with opioid prescribing… addiction is a mental health issue. Pain…so far…is not. But think what will happen when it becomes coded as a mental health diagnosis. They seem to be writing this on the wall about us. God forbid!

Garrett Beyer

I think a budget should be set aside for pharmacies to start imprinting a specific code to the other side of each opioid pill that is assigned to and can identify each and every person with chronic pain that it was prescribed to so that law enforcement can hold accountable the few people that are involved in the illegal activities that continue to negatively effect those of us that truly depend on these medications in order to maintain our physical functions just to try and live as much of a pain free life as possible.

Nancy R

The thing that pharmacy personnel CAN do is reinforce safety concerns (such as keeping medications away from others), preferably using a lock-box and reinforcing the dosage, side effects and when to call the doctor. They could also check the registry to make sure the patient is not being prescribed by another doctor at the same time. To question a patient why they are taking the medication and postpone or withhold it is not helpful. If they have a concern call prescribing doctor but don’t let a patient in pain wait a day or two to get a call back. The patient’s physician knows this patient and has prescribed the medication.

Barbara Krantz

I have suffered with chronic and now intractable pain for the past thirty years. I have not been able to work for over a year and we are barely existing financially. I have a rotten “Obama plan” which covers none of my meds and I have lost so much weight that many days I feel like I will die and I pray I do. I was a nurse by trade and I am embarrassed that the medical profession is taking steps into the dark ages when it comes to pain control. My doctor is awesome but she is getting more and more nervous about writing for the scripts I need. I can see a day coming when she won’t be allowed to write anymore because she isn’t a pain specialist.


The DEA uses the big lie technique when referring to “balance” in their approach. Obviously it is not their mission to help people in pain. And frankly meeting with doctors- who have done poorly with regard to helping people in pain- that’s the blind meeting with the almost blind. We have yet to see an inspired or an inspiring plan from either to meet the needs of people in pain. While they think of themselves as the answer to current troubles- they are very much part of the problem- as they wish to force the rest of society to do as they please without societies advice and consent.

Michele Heitzman

Please learn about kratom and what a wonderful plant it is! join the American Kratom Association! This plant is saving lives! Please look into it at least!


Maybe I am not reading this right but it seems to me that the DEA is giving pharmacist’s the go ahead to over rule doctor’s. My pharmacist knows nothing about my life or the chronic pain I live with . I have already seen chronic pain patients bullied or denied their medications by these people for the lamest reasons. So in fact they could be responsible for the murder of patients who go to the street to get what they think is either what they get from the doctor or something like it. Because they are suffering, in pain, going cold turkey, giving up and wondering why the DEA doesn’t care if they live or die because that’s what it amounts to. These are a good percentage of your “accidental over doses” and it’s all because they want to live another day to see they children grow or grandchildren born or just to smell the flowers one more day.

Doc Anonymous

Talking is a small step in the right direction. Back in the 2000s the DEA refused to even talk to pharma or to the docs that were trying to treat pain. I remember one pharma sponsored event at which the DEA withdrew their scheduled appearance at the conference to tellthe docs what was required. That was at the beginning when the war on pain docs bean to get really serious with DEA raids on doctors offices and seizure of all of the docs records and other assets. If these talks begin to signal a change in atmosphere and if the crime of compassion is laid to rest then this will be real progress. I remain skeptical. The DEA has shown no evidence of any concern for the people suffering chronic pain.