Top Menu

DEA Focuses on Drug Distributors in Fight Against Painkiller Abuse


The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is focusing on drug distributors in an effort to fight prescription painkiller abuse, The New York Times reports. In the past, the agency has tried tactics including arresting doctors and closing pharmacies.

Drug distributors are now trying to limit their liability by monitoring their distribution pipeline more closely, and refusing to supply some pharmacy customers.

Earlier this year, the DEA charged drug distributor Cardinal Health and four pharmacies with violating their licenses to sell controlled drugs. The DEA said Cardinal had an unusually high number of shipments of controlled painkillers to four pharmacies. The agency suspended Cardinal’s controlled substance license at its distribution center in Lakeland, Florida. The center serves 2,500 pharmacies in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

Cardinal no longer does business with a dozen pharmacies in at least four states, the article notes. Some of the drugstores unsuccessfully sued the company to resume shipments. Cardinal’s Chairman and Chief Executive, George S. Barrett, said the company has strengthened the criteria it uses in deciding whether to sell painkillers to a pharmacy. “We had a strong antidiversion system in place, but no system is perfect,” he told the newspaper. Cardinal has created a committee that evaluates pharmacies that order large amounts of narcotic drugs.

In August, Amerisource Bergen, the third-largest drug distributor in the United States, received subpoenas from the DEA and federal prosecutors seeking information on how the company monitors for possible diversions of opioids and other drugs with high potential for abuse.

7 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Joe
    Joe / February 16, 2014 at 4:45 am

    I have fibromyalgia, have had sinus and hemorrhoid surgery. I have arthritis in my neck, back, and knees. I was in a rear-end car accident and I have severe pain in my neck on and off such that I cannot turn my head at all. I was also exposed to toxic mold at my workplace (resulting in sinus surgery) and I have gone downhill since then. I suffer with IBS as well. I live in constant pain which also causes “brain fog”. I am an electronics engineer with an advanced degree and a good job. I want to keep working, be productive, and provide for my wife and my 3 year old son. I am tired of being under-treated for my pain because the DEA has caused my doctor to fear for losing his license. He has referred me to a pain clinic now where I am sure I will get an MRI. For some reason my doctor cannot order them (ordering too many tests under Medicare?). He sent many of his patients to pain clinics last month. I volunteered to be referred and he did. He fears giving me more than what he is giving me, which I hate to say, is very minimal for the suffering I go through. I go through waves of pain that comes and goes but never stops. I should not be punished by the DEA for the deeds of a few bad apples. I am not a drug dealer or a drug abuser, but I am under-treated for my pain and I can barely make it through each workday. By the time I’m home, I am unable to spend time with my son and my wife. I just don’t have the power to do it after working all day and driving 1.5 hours total getting to work and back. The DEA must be stopped and taken out of the business of interfering with legitimate patients and doctors. They have no business involving themselves between me and my doctor in legally obtained medications. It’s not a war on drugs, it’s a war on patients and fellow HUMAN BEINGS. Let all of them fall into a life of chronic pain and suffering and see how fast these “agents” change their minds. Or perhaps may they see a close relative or loved one suffer immensely and find it is because of their antics against legal medications. I would probably have eaten a bullet by now if I had not received pain treatment. But my quality of life is very poor because what I receive is very minimal. I don’t get 250 pills a month of high-dose oxycodone. I get two measly Lortab 7.5mg each day for breakthrough and a 25ug Fentanyl patch which helps but is certainly not powerful by any means. It is supposed to work for 3 full days but really works for 1.5 days. I wake up with severe back pain at 3 or 4 am many days of the month and have to get out of bed or the pain gets worse. Not treating a person for their pain until it is relieved is inhumane. Would you tell a stage 4 cancer patient they cannot have pain medication because, God forbid, he/she may become addicted? That’s ridiculous. I will live with cancer-level pain for the rest of my life and I should not be denied because I could get addicted (who cares? Really!) or because some jerk gets medication when he doesn’t need it and then sells it. That is not my problem. That is a problem for the police and the dealer. It is sophomoric of the DEA to punish all victims of pain for the crimes of a few as if they were the mean school teacher who punishes the whole class for the misbehavior of a single student. DEA and drug organizations: STOP PUNISHING ME FOR BEING SICK AND IN PAIN!!! Those who deny people of proper treatment causing the to suffer, and doing so knowingly will suffer the wrath of God when they pass on. It must be wonderful, Mr. Agent, to wake up and hit the floor running, overflowing with energy, and pain free, while you go after me, my doctor, and my pharmacist. Wake up and stop punishing me, my wife, and most of all, my beautiful little 3 year old son! You have no right and how dare you presume to know what is best for me or play doctor. You are not doctors. You have no medical training and therefore you should be arrested for interfering with medical treatment of legitimate patients. I hope one day you do sit in a cold and miserable prison because that’s what I feel like – like a prisoner in the world wishing for death if this is what my life will be for another 40 years. Get off your high horses now and leave us alone.

  2. Avatar of kayrelia
    kayrelia / January 26, 2014 at 12:11 am

    I suffer from chronic pain and have a wonderful pain management doctor. My problem is because of the DEA and their rediculous wisdom have made it very hard to have my prescriptions filled. I suffer from a rare cancer that does not respond to chemo or radiation treatments, failed back surgery, knee surgery, foot surgery etc.. I take my prescriptions as i am required but always having to change pharmacies because the manufacture refuses to send the pain medications needed for the legal pain sufferers we suffer because the DEA makes us look like junkies, I bet employees of the DEA get their pain meds required with no problems. Thanks a lot from a hard working American DEA are targeting the wrong people shut di an all the liquor stores, cigarette manufactures, and marijuana stores and see how these people who are addicted to these items like it.

  3. Avatar of Rodney
    Rodney / December 12, 2013 at 2:49 am

    I went to my independent pharmacy that I have used for years and was told that the DEA has been threatening distributors for sending out too much Percoset. I also have a pain management doctor that I won’t be able to see for another month, to try and find another pain medicine that will help. So while I can’t function because of my back pain, and can barely walk, the DEA is stopping legitimate businesses from being able to prescribe and fill pain med prescriptions. I have to shop around for a pharmacy to get them filled which would normally be against my contract with my pain management doctor. The DEA needs to focus on the doctors or pharmacies that fill unusually large orders, but leave the legitimate patients alone! They punish one distributor and leave the obvious threat against the other distributors so they are afraid to fill their orders. Thanks to my protective government agency that makes it easier to legally buy marijuana (in California) than to get my pain meds. I won’t buy marijuana, but the point is that it’s easier and cheaper to get than Percoset. What a stupid world we live in.

  4. Avatar of KLW
    KLW / July 12, 2013 at 8:36 am

    The DEA needs to re-educate all of their officials. I have a 12 inch stack onf medical records and I do have chronic pain from all of the cutting, burning, eye surgery, prostatitis, Neuropaties, Diabetes TYPE 1 for 34 years, Congestive Heart Disease and associated 5x CABG as well a s osteomyletis. circulatory problems and without the pain meds I would not be able to function at all. I have an excellent pain management doctor and I am alsways complient.Yes there are cheats, abusers, etc. Go after them.All you have done now is raise the price of heroin and the overdose rate in hospitals is sky high. Please, stop all this madness. Does this mean Obama Care is positioning itself to include this madness also !! God Bless America. I only started getting well after they managed the pain as I could have a heart attack, hi BP, renal failure etc..all from severepain

  5. Avatar of S. Carden
    S. Carden / March 20, 2013 at 4:11 am

    All you managed to do was to make legal prescription pain meds unattainable for the chronically ill patients who needed them. This play will not be easily forgotten for the thousands of suffering patients and their families who were left out on a limb because of the reckless, callous decisions you made to the pharmacies and suppliers of pain meds.

  6. Avatar of Tonya Crystal
    Tonya Crystal / November 13, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    This whole idea of closing pain clinics is just wrong and a huge mistake there are people who are truly in need of pain medication. I think it is just sad that everyone must suffer for the mistakes of others. Its up to each individual they make the choice to take prescription medication. comes at a huge risk for the patient and the doctors who rights the script but there must be competent doctors in place to handle this situation. They are totally lost when it comes to addiction treatment how much time do they truly spend in medical school learning about addiction treatment not much. We can legalize alchohol but not other substances alchohol is more dangersous than prescription drug use but we sale this substance without hesitation. I just think there is a double standard when it comes to prescribe opiate use.

  7. Carlos / October 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Geeeeeze, the DEA is at it again. They used to think that methadone was diverted from the methadone clinics and they were afraid that there were going to have zombies walking the streets of our cities. When a longitudinal study was done. It was found that the diversion was much less than 3%. It was the medication with the least diversion ever. Methadone patients in their MMT clinics wanted to take their methadone, and few was diverting it. Besides methadone treatment was also over regulated and that was one of the reasons that diversion was few and far between. Now, the DEA is coming up with some doozies, they do not even have competent doctors in their staff and are much less concern about doing any research studies to find out if their policies and standards are on the level. They are all about law enforcement and being tough without consideration about making rational policies. God catch us in good grace.

Leave a Reply

Please read our comment policy and guidelines before you submit a comment. Your email address will not be published. Thank you for visiting

8 − five =

Reproduction in whole or in part of this publication is strictly prohibited without prior consent. Photographic rights remain the property of Join Together and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. For reproduction inquiries, please e-mail