News Release
April 20, 2009
Contact: Jodie Underwood
Number: (206) 553-5443

DEA Suspends Bellingham Physician's DEA Registration for Distributing Highly Addictive Controlled Substances Over the Internet

APR 20 -- (SEATTLE, WA) – Arnold R. Moorin, Special Agent in Charge of the Seattle Field Division, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), today announced the Immediate Suspension of the Federal Controlled Substance Registration of Peter Pfeiffer, MD, a physician and anesthesiologist in Bellingham, Washington.

Dr. Pfeiffer has been the subject of a DEA investigation that alleges that since November 2008, Dr. Pfeiffer has prescribed controlled substances to hundreds of individuals throughout the United States via the Internet, based on online questionnaires, submissions of unverified medical records, and/or long-distance telephone consultations. The prescriptions were issued for other than legitimate medical purposes, and outside the scope of professional practice. Dr. Pfeiffer allegedly failed to establish a valid physician-patient relationship as required by multiple state laws and federal law. Virtually all of Dr. Pfeiffer’s prescriptions were for hydrocodone, a Schedule III controlled substance, and highly addictive and abused pain killer. Between November 28, 2008 and February 13, 2009, Dr. Pfeiffer authorized 34,300 dosage units of hydrocodone for individuals in 12 states. All but one of the prescriptions was issued for 90 pill quantities of hydrocodone.

“The Drug Enforcement Administration is committed to keeping our community safe from those who facilitate and enable the abuse of prescription drugs purchased over the Internet,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Arnold R. Moorin. “Drug traffickers who push pills over the Internet, operate without regard for public safety or medical necessity. This action is an important step toward ensuring accountability of those who are supplying these pills.”

All medical practitioners must be registered with the DEA in order to prescribe, administer, and/or dispense controlled substances. The effect of the DEA action is to immediately prohibit Dr. Pfeiffer from any further prescribing and administering of controlled substances. The DEA’s investigation has determined that the continued registration of Dr. Pfeiffer constitutes an imminent danger to public health and safety.

Dr. Pfeiffer received written notice of the factual and legal basis for this action. In addition, he was given an opportunity for an administrative hearing within the next 60 days. On April 17, 2009, Dr. Pfeiffer voluntarily surrendered his DEA registration number in lieu of an administrative hearing.

Today, more that 7 million Americans are abusing prescription drugs – more than the number of Americans abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, and inhalants combined. Prescription drug abuse became a crisis practically overnight: In just six years, from 2000 to 2006, the number of Americans abusing prescription drugs rose 80% from 3.8 million abusers to 7 million. Perhaps more alarming is 19% of teenagers admit to abusing powerful prescription controlled substances to get “high.” Sadly, opioid painkillers now cause more drug overdose deaths than cocaine and heroin combined.

The dispensing of drugs without a legitimate medical purpose and bona fide physician patient- relationship, and beyond the scope of appropriate professional practice, is prosecutable as a violation of the federal criminal laws.

This is an on-going investigation. Please forward any questions to DEA Seattle Field Division Public Information Officer Jodie Underwood at (206) 553-1162.