Administrator Asa Hutchinson
At the spring meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson asked the country's chief legal officers to consider instituting prescription monitoring programs in each of their states. NAAG hosted the Administrator in Washington, DC on Friday, March 22, 2002.
Prescription monitoring programs require pharmacies to report data to a state agency on all prescriptions written for either Schedule II drugs (click here for list of Schedule II drugs: http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/scheduling.html) or all controlled substances. Pharmacies report this information electronically, and states could use that data when conducting investigations into illegal activities.
Currently only 17 states have prescription monitoring programs. Although there is federal legislation establishing a national prescription monitoring program, the DEA would like to see more states implement the program themselves. Those states that have already instituted monitoring programs have the lowest number of diversion problems. Simply having a monitoring system in place deters physicians from diverting narcotics into the illegal market.
Mr. Hutchinson added that states did not have to set up these programs on their own. The Office of Justice Programs at the Department of Justice will soon be taking applications from states that are seeking funds to establish a monitoring system. The Department of Justice has set aside two million dollars for these grants.
Administrator Hutchinson promised the support of the DEA in the states' efforts to find a way to decrease all forms drug abuse. He emphasized the Bush Administration's strong and clear commitment to achieving even greater success in getting more and more Americans away from drug abuse through a balanced approach of education, treatment, and enforcement.