On May 4, ACEP submitted comments on a proposed rule put out by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that would strengthen the DEA’s control over the diversion of controlled substances and would make other changes to how the agency sets quotas for the production, manufacturing, and procurement of controlled substances. While ACEP supports the DEA’s effort to make sure controlled substances are used only for their intended purposes, we believe that it is important to set appropriate production quotas of controlled substances to ensure that hospitals and emergency departments have enough drugs and treatments to care for the patients they serve.
The diversion of controlled substances from medical to non-medical purposes has become a significant public health problem. However, another pressing problem for emergency providers that the DEA must continue to take action on is the significant drug shortage problem we are facing in this country. With respect to emergency medicine, just this week, a major supplier of medications reports there are 156 emergency medication preparations and 50 intravenous fluid preparations that are not available. ACEP is extremely concerned that drug shortages have jeopardized the safety of our patients, especially during and after natural disasters and other mass casualty events. We believe the issue of drug shortages is a substantial threat to our nation’s preparedness and response capabilities, and we urge the DEA to seek a coordinated response with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). We also encourage the DEA to be much more proactive going forward in listening to stakeholder feedback and identifying and reacting to manufacturer production challenges, issues with the supply chain, and other factors, including large-scale disasters, that impact the ability for hospitals and emergency departments to receive vital medications. Our full set of comments on the rule is found here.