Pharmaceutical Diversion

Pharmaceutical diversion refers to the illegal use of or fraud in obtaining prescription drug medications--essentially, diverting legal prescription medications for illegal purposes. In comparison to other well-known abused controlled substances such as Marijuana, Methamphetamine, and Heroin, the abuse of prescription medications has greatly increased such that in a report published by the National Governors Association (NGA) on September 13, 2012, the NGA identified it as "the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, and is the most common type of drug abuse after Marijuana use among teens between the ages of 12 and 17.” (NGA) Because of the availability of prescription medications, the illegal use, sales, trafficking, and distribution of these controlled substances has become not only an addition problem for some, but a very profitable business for many individuals. Prescription drugs such as Vicodin, Lortab, Oxycontin, and Oxycodone--all of which doctors can prescribe legally in Nevada and the United States to those who have a legitimate need for them--are becoming abused in a variety of ways. While pharmaceutical diversion and addiction greatly impacts many individuals, its reach extends far in terms of the impact it has upon crime in our communities, our economy, and ultimately our families.

The Nevada Department of Public Safety, Investigation Division remains committed in its efforts to reduce the impact which pharmaceutical diversion has upon the citizens and State of Nevada. As defined in its statutory authority under sections 453 and 639 of the Nevada Revised Statutes, the DPS Investigation Division serves as the primary law enforcement agency in the State of Nevada to investigate crimes involving pharmaceutical diversion. This includes such felonies as illegally obtaining or taking a controlled substance under false pretenses, forging or altering a prescription, the illegal use of a controlled substance, and attempting to see multiple doctors in order to obtain a fraudulent prescription (“doctor shopping”).

While the DPS Investigation Division recognizes that enforcement plays a critical element in the reduction of pharmaceutical diversion, it further recognizes that the complexity of this problem requires a variety of combined approaches and solutions from those in the criminal justice field, the medical community, social services, and substance abuse and mental health. To help reduce the increasing problem of pharmaceutical diversion in the State of Nevada, the DPS Investigation Division works in partnerships with the State of Nevada Board of Pharmacy, doctors, and pharmacies to investigate and identify those individuals involved with controlled prescription drug abuse.

Work Cited: 

National Governors Association (NGA). “Six Strategies for Reducing Prescription Drug Abuse.” 13 Sept 2012. Web. 27 Jan 2016.