Smart Ideas: Businesses Revisited

Prescription Drug Laws and the Fight Against Prescription Drug Abuse Prescription drug abuse has plagued the United States for more than forty years, a problem the government has been trying to control with legislation. Being considered the guardians of prescription drugs, doctors thus have a key role in preventing their misuse. So do laws, both on federal and state levels, that target prescription drug abuse, as well as people who prescribe and dispense controlled substances. Federal Drug Legislation Federal drug regulation started in the early part of the 20th century with 1910’s opiate regulation and the 1919 Volstead Act (alcohol prohibition), which took effect until the 1930s. The most comprehensive federal drug law, which was called the Controlled Substances Act, was passed in 1970 and instituted a single system for the regulation of narcotic and psychotropic drugs, as well as established the legal framework for the creation of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 1973.
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Today, there are more than 5,000 special agents under the federal government’s anti-prescription drug abuse program, with an annual budget of more than $2 billion. The DEA is the primary agency policing the issuance and dispensing of prescription drugs and all controlled substances, its regulations affecting manufacturers, dispensers and distributors alike.
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Penalties for violations including jail time, fines, as well as loss of DEA licensure, which also means loss of the ability to prescribe controlled substances. Physicians who have lost their state license may also lose their DEA registration, and the DEA itself may actively participation in the investigation, arrest and prosecution of suspected violators. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also joined the battle against prescription drug abuse. Through the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007, the agency requires drug companies to come up with a risk and mitigation strategy (REMS) for products that carry more risks than benefits to consumers. State Regulation On the state level, the government has also been actively fighting prescription drug abuse with relevant laws and programs. In most states, there are general laws that prohibit obtaining drugs through deceitful or fraudulent means, such as the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 and the Uniform Narcotic Drug Act of 1932. There are state laws that cover behaviors such as deliberately hiding information from doctors, like when people “shop” for prescriptions from clinic to clinic. In some states, an ID required before a patient is given prescriptions. Particularly in Alaska, New Mexico, Washington and Maryland, people are somehow immune from prosecution or have reduced sentences when they seek emergency help for themselves or another individual. Other laws are created separately for physicians. Additionally, The Federation of State Medical Boards have created a model policy that state medical boards can use as a guide while reviewing the pain management practices of doctors.