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Research on Illegal Prescription Drug Market Interventions

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2014
51 pages
This study expands the auditing of High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTAs) to include the collection of information on strategies implemented by selected HIDTAs to disrupt the regional illegal prescription drug market through partnerships with the public health or medical communities, training, and the investigation and prosecution of drug trafficking organizations that sell illegal prescription drugs.
An analysis of the illegal prescription drug threat notes that the misuse of prescription drugs has grown to epidemic proportions, such that overdose deaths from illegal prescription drugs increased almost 300 percent between 1995 and 2012. Deaths from overdoses of illegal prescription drugs now exceed traffic accidents as the leading cause of death in the United States. Thirty-nine percent of those deaths in 2012 involved opioid analgesics. The illicit market for controlled prescription drugs is supplied by a number of diversion channels, including unscrupulous physicians and pharmacists, doctor shopping, sharing or selling pills obtained legitimately, prescription forgery, thefts and robberies, smuggling, or rogue Internet pharmacies. Following an overview of the threat posed by illegal prescription drugs, this report discusses the national response to the threat through the HIDTA Program and prescription drug monitoring. As part of the President's National Drug Control Strategy, there is a plan for reducing prescription drug use through raising public awareness of this threat and its causes; tracking and monitoring prescription drugs; providing safe, legal options for disposal of medications; and the use of detection and prevention methods that target persons and criminal organizations involved in the diversion of prescription drugs. This report focuses on how the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is using the HIDTA Program to support the National Drug Control Strategy in three HIDTAs. The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program is also examined. 2 tables and approximately 120 references

Date Published: April 1, 2014