Admitted drug addicts and dealers were among the hundreds of thousands of people and businesses the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) licensed to manufacture, distribute or prescribe pharmaceuticals over the past 12 years, a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation has found. The agency stripped only 240 licenses for wrong-doing over the same period.
The DEA’s Office of Diversion Control, which is responsible for issuing and revoking the permits, is, by law, fully funded by the licenses’ application fees. More than 1.7 million individuals and organizations held licenses as of March 2018 — an increase of more than 510,000 since August 2006, the earliest publicly available data, TheDCNF’s review found.
“The office … has not been very aggressive in hunting down doctors [who] are prescribing in inappropriate ways,” said Carnegie Mellon University Professor Jonathan Caulkins, who’s worked extensively in drug policy. “The DEA does not aggressively try to find corrupt or incompetent health care providers in the health care system.”Effective enforcement is especially important given the growing opioid epidemic, Caulkins added. More than 200,000 Americans died from prescription drug overdoses between 1999 and 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most heroin users begin their addiction with such prescriptions, studies have shown.
The DEA ruled on 430 investigations into licensed individuals and groups since March 2006. The agency only revoked 240 licenses and denied applications for another 106, according to a DCNF review of the investigations. (Read more from “DEA Knowingly Let Admitted Addicts, Dealers Prescribe Drugs” HERE)