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Criminal Diversion of Prescription Medication Lawyers

By Spodek Law Group | February 13, 2023
(Last Updated On: July 28, 2023)

Last Updated on: 28th July 2023, 07:22 pm

DEA’s Diversion Control Division: Preventing the Diversion of Controlled Substances

Marijuana – The Only Natural Drug

Out of all the major drugs of abuse, marijuana is the only natural, harvested product that people can obtain easily. However, the same cannot be said for the other illicit drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine, or even the pharmaceuticals that are legally manufactured, as they must be synthesized in factories. Unfortunately, many of the problems associated with drug abuse stem from the diversion of controlled pharmaceuticals and listed chemicals from legitimate sources into illicit drug trafficking. It is the mission of the DEA’s Diversion Control Division to prevent, detect, and investigate the diversion of these controlled substances and listed chemicals, ensuring an adequate and uninterrupted supply for legitimate medical, commercial, and scientific needs.

Diversion Investigations: Battling Drug Abuse

The DEA is responsible for regulating all businesses that deal with controlled substances, including those that import, export, manufacture, or distribute them, as well as health professionals and pharmacies that are authorized to prescribe and dispense them. This regulatory oversight includes stringent requirements for drug security and recordkeeping to prevent abuse. The DEA is also obligated to monitor the movement of licit controlled substances across U.S. borders and to issue import and export permits for that movement under international treaties.
Diversion investigations are crucial in the fight against drug abuse and involve a range of criminal activities, including prescription forgery, pharmacy robbery, inventory theft, and falsified records by employees, pharmacists, and physicians. The DEA’s Diversion Control Division consists of diversion investigators, special agents, chemists, pharmacologists, program analysts, and other professionals who collaborate to combat drug diversion.

Chemical Diversion: Protecting Public Health and Safety

The illicit drug market also offers a range of purely synthetic drugs that are abused by people of all ages. These drugs are often illegally manufactured or synthesized in clandestine laboratories that require chemicals to synthesize, extract, and purify these drugs. These laboratories often pose significant public health and safety issues, making it essential to monitor and control these chemicals. The DEA has long recognized this need and has been granted the authority to regulate chemicals under various laws, including the Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act of 1988, the Domestic Chemical Diversion Control Act of 1993, the Comprehensive Methamphetamine Control Act of 1996, the Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act of 2000, and the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005.

A Cohesive Division

The DEA’s Diversion Control Division is a team of experts that work together to determine program priorities, manage field activities, coordinate major investigations, draft and promulgate regulations, establish national drug production quotas, fulfill U.S. obligations under drug control treaties, advise on legislation and regulatory initiatives, control drugs and chemicals not previously under federal control, monitor the import and export of drugs and chemicals, track the distribution of certain controlled substances, liaise with industry, and plan and allocate program resources. Together, they are committed to preventing the diversion of controlled substances and listed chemicals from legitimate sources, ensuring a safe and healthy society.

Uncovering the Dark World of Pharmaceutical Diversion

Exploring the World of Pharmaceutical Diversion

When we think of drug-related criminal cases, we typically picture street drugs such as heroin and cocaine. But did you know that drug diversion, or the illegal use of prescription medication or fraud to obtain drugs, is a major problem in the medical industry? Medical professionals, who handle controlled substances daily, are often involved in investigations related to drug diversion.

Pharmaceutical diversion, also known as drug diversion, is any criminal act that removes a drug from the path between a manufacturer and an intended patient. While anyone can be accused of this, medical professionals are the most common perpetrators because of their unique access to medication and ability to distribute it. Unfortunately, this puts healthcare workers at high risk of drug addiction and can lead to them diverting drugs by writing their own prescriptions or giving prescriptions to friends and family members. Even visiting multiple doctors to obtain the same prescription or a combination of prescriptions without disclosing it to each provider is considered drug diversion.

Examples of Pharmaceutical Diversion

The Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency (GDNA) offers some examples of common ways they see drug diversion occurring. For instance, veterinarians and other animal health professionals will sometimes write prescriptions as part of their daily practice, but pharmacists are required to release those medications only when a veterinarian is licensed and operating normally. If a pharmacist knowingly fills a prescription written for an animal and gives it to a human, they are in violation of Georgia law.

Patients will often present Georgia physicians with a prescription said to have been written in another state, providing a license or ID from that state to indicate they live there. While this is not illegal, pharmacists are encouraged to take extra steps and ensure those prescriptions have been legitimately granted before filling them. Certain drugs, such as promethazine with codeine, are more likely to be part of drug diversion because they offer additional “benefits” outside of normal medical use.

Drug Diversion Investigations and Penalties

Depending on the scenario, a drug diversion investigation can be either a state or federal-level process. A state-level investigation usually begins with an informant or an anonymous tip and is often first sent to the state’s medical licensing board, who will contact law enforcement. The individual is not always told an investigation is underway, though sometimes they will be interviewed. Depending on the findings, cases can be referred to local officials or the state Attorney General for prosecution. In severe cases, they may refer the case to federal law enforcement agencies. Even if no legal action is taken, the licensing board may have their own disciplinary process they choose to undertake.

A federal investigation is typically more intensive and is conducted by the DEA Office of Diversion Control, sometimes with the help of other agencies. Federal, state, and local law enforcement may pool their resources to share information. Undercover agents, informants, and surveillance are commonly used in these cases. They often result in raids of a medical facility.

Under the Controlled Substances Act, a conviction for drug diversion in federal court could be subject to a fine of $250,000 and 10 years in federal prison for each individual offense. State charges could be applied in addition to federal ones depending on the specifics of the violation.


Pharmaceutical diversion is a serious issue that affects both medical professionals and patients. Although it can be difficult to detect, awareness and education can help prevent it. By understanding what pharmaceutical diversion is, how it occurs, and the consequences of such actions, we can work towards creating a safer and healthier environment for everyone.

Protect Your Nursing License: What You Need to Know About Drug Diversion Allegations

Pyxis System Errors and Drug Diversion Allegations

Reports of drug diversion and medication documentation errors are on the rise in healthcare. Nurses and other healthcare professionals are frequently reported by their employers for alleged drug diversion or failure to document medication administration correctly. The hospital relies heavily on the Pyxis printout to record dispensed medications. Unfortunately, due to a variety of human and technological errors, the Pyxis system or MAR may not correctly reflect medications dispensed, administered or wasted, which can lead to serious consequences.

If your employer calls you into a meeting with supervisory staff and pharmacy staff and threatens to report you, don’t panic. You are entitled to a proper defense, even if you did divert medication. Do not agree to contact the Health Professionals Recovery Program (HPRP) for Michigan, the Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN) for Florida, or Professionals Resource Network (PRN) until you consult a professional licensing attorney.

If you refuse a drug screen, your license will more likely than not be subject to a Summary Suspension or Emergency Suspension Order. Don’t make any hasty decisions without consulting with an attorney.

Work with a Professional Licensing Attorney to Ensure a Thorough Review of the Facts and a Proper Defense

A professional licensing attorney can help you navigate the legal system and ensure that the facts are thoroughly reviewed, and a proper defense is put forth. Often, the error is related to a breakdown of hospital procedures or the computer system itself, and the problem may not be diversion, but rather improper documentation. Remember, you have options, and you need to speak to a professional licensing attorney as soon as possible.

Understanding Drug Diversion Allegations

Drug diversion occurs when prescription medication is misappropriated without legal authorization. It is commonly referred to as medication/prescription diversion and opioid diversion. One example is when a physician writes a prescription for narcotics without a legitimate medical need. Another common example is when a nurse (RN, LPN or NP) diverts medication from a Pyxis machine. Protect your license and your future by understanding your rights and consulting with a professional licensing attorney if you are facing drug diversion allegations.

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