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Issues

Prescription Drug Abuse and Diversion

HDA and our primary pharmaceutical distributor members are committed to bringing industry and government together to tackle our nation’s complex prescription drug abuse and diversion epidemic, a serious healthcare challenge that threatens both patient safety and the security of the healthcare supply chain.

While distributors do not prescribe or dispense drugs directly to patients, they do share a common goal with physicians, manufacturers, pharmacists, law enforcement officials and policymakers: to ensure a safe supply of medicines. Among other safeguards, distributors are dedicated to keeping prescription painkillers out of the hands of people who may use them for purposes other than those for which they are intended. To help address this threat, HDA and its member support and employ a multilayered approach:

Pharmaceutical distributors work to ensure that healthcare providers receive the medically necessary medicines to treat their patients and improve public health.

  • HDA is committed to our core mission of helping to protect patient safety and access to medicines, while creating efficiencies in the healthcare supply chain.
  • We work with manufacturers, pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and other healthcare providers to provide the appropriate inventory levels of the medications and products that patients need every day.
  • Our members register with the DEA and follow rigorous statutory and regulatory requirements for the storage, handling and distribution of controlled substances. These sophisticated security systems and processes help safeguard the supply chain.
Pharmaceutical distributors coordinate with a range of supply chain partners, as well as federal and state regulatory agencies, to help prevent the diversion of prescription drugs.

  • We work with supply chain stakeholders, including pharmaceutical manufacturers, hospitals, retail pharmacies and other healthcare providers, to share information and develop strategies to identify and help prevent abuse and diversion.
  • We work collaboratively with law enforcement and regulators to combat bad actors who attempt to breach the security of the legitimate supply chain, coordinating with law enforcement and regulators to offer information technology, security and logistics expertise that helps locate and prosecute individuals who attempt to misuse and divert prescription drugs from the legitimate supply chain.
  • We take steps to “know our customers,” including actively assessing and reviewing purchases from pharmacies and healthcare providers that order controlled substances to monitor and report to the DEA if a customer’s controlled substances volume or pattern of ordering might signal inappropriate use of the product. If inappropriate use is suspected, distributors work proactively with DEA, local law enforcement and others to help in the investigation of potential diversion cases.
  • We provide the DEA with additional data and reports to aid their efforts to seek out criminal behavior. Distributors communicate about any handling of selected controlled substances to the DEA’s reporting system, Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System (ARCOS). This system monitors the flow of DEA controlled substances from their point of manufacture through commercial distribution channels to the point of sale at the dispensing/retail level.
Pharmaceutical distributors work to educate suppliers, customers and policymakers about our industry’s efforts to help prevent prescription drug abuse and diversion.

  • We are committed to being a part of the national dialogue on prescription drug abuse and will continue to participate in national, state and local forums to educate, raise awareness of and advance solutions to prescription drug abuse and diversion.
  • HDA's collaborative efforts to mitigate this issue include work with the National Governors Association’s Prescription Drug Abuse Project, The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids initiative “The Medicine Abuse Project,” the Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines and the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America.
  • In 2014 and 2015, HDA also collaborated with Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens’ “We’re Not Gonna Take It” video contest with high school students, highlighting the risks of prescription drug abuse among teens. Through HDA’s support, the winning video aired on TV stations throughout the state of Georgia.
For more than two years, HDA worked closely with members of Congress to help enact the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016 (Public Law 114-145, S. 483). Based on ideas initially conceived by HDA and its members, the law further strengthens the relationship between pharmaceutical supply chain stakeholders and the DEA, enhancing collaboration in the fight against prescription drug abuse. It was the first significant legislation passed in the 114th Congress to address this complex issue.


Resources

CONTACT

  • John E. Parker
  • Senior Vice President, Communications
  • (703) 885-0216
  • jparker@hda.org
  • Anita T. Ducca
  • Senior Vice President, Regulatory Affairs
  • (703) 885-0240
  • aducca@hda.org
  • Kristen L. Freitas
  • Vice President, Federal Government Affairs
  • (703) 885-0232
  • kfreitas@hda.org
  • Matthew J. DiLoreto
  • Vice President, State Government Affairs
  • (703) 885-0236
  • mdiloreto@hda.org
  • Farah M. Simonett
  • Associate Director, Communications
  • (703) 885-0269
  • fsimonett@hda.org

The Vital Link in Healthcare

HDA's "Vital Link Toolkit" was created to inform and educate the public on the role of pharmaceutical distributors in the healthcare industry.

News

Read press releases, public testimony and executive statements about HDA's efforts on behalf of pharmaceutical distributors and the entire supply chain.

Join HDA

HDA membership provides access to networking opportunities, research, member-developed education and resources for the healthcare supply chain.

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