Is the DEA Guilty of Drug Trafficking?


In a recent e-mail exchange with me, Georgia physician Bill MacArthur complains that the Drug Enforcement Administration, for a fee, lets companies sell access to its database of health care professionals authorized to prescribe controlled substances. Information from the database–including individual DEA registration numbers, expiration dates, and zip codes–is available here, here, and here, for example. MacArthur worries that the information, which is ostensibly aimed at customers who want to verify a physician's registration status, could be used to facilitate prescription forgery:

If a pharmacist, physician or other registrant does not protect the confidentiality of their registration number (misplaces or loses a prescription pad) they can be significantly disciplined. If the federal government decides to sell my DEA registration information they appear to still want to hold the registrant responsible for what the purchaser does with it (prescription forgery). I know we're talking about the federal government, but this really does not make sense to me since it could potentially ruin careers.

Applying the logic used by the federal government to prosecute physicians accused of being too loose with painkillers, the fact that the DEA is acting in good faith, with no intention of facilitating diversion of pharmaceuticals to the black market, should not shield it from drug trafficking charges.

NEXT: Attitudes About Immigrants

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Is there a link to the original story, or is this a print story? Either way, a link or reference to the original would be nice. 🙂

  2. These idiots are worried about someone “misplacing” a presciption pad while it’s rather easy for someone to take a legit prescription and then make up their own presciption pads. Perhaps we’re on the road to forcing doctors to purchase their prescription pads from the Bureau Of Engraving And Printing.

  3. Perhaps we’re on the road to forcing doctors to purchase their prescription pads from the Bureau Of Engraving And Printing.

    New York already does that.

  4. grylliade:

    Sorry about that. I’ve revised the post to clarify that the quote is from an e-mail message.

  5. Fred,

    Holy fuck. To borrow a phrase, no matter how cynical you get it’s hard to keep up.

  6. Here’s another scary thing I found in Fred’s link.

    Regarding electronic prescriptions:

    “Pharmacies may continue to receive a prescription for a non-controlled substance that is transmitted to their computer or fax machine by secure electronic means, in compliance with the requirements of the New York State Education Department. ” (italics mine)

  7. If you’re wondering why the Ed. Dept., it’s because NY’s Education Law contains provisions related to regulation of licensed and learned professions such as medicine and pharmacy.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.