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Diversion and Misuse of Opioid pharmaceutical drugs

Current trend information indicates that diversion and misuse of opioid pharmaceutical drugs, such as methadone, oxycodone, and hydrocodone products, continue to be a severe problem in Milwaukee and across Wisconsin.[1] 

The primary methods of pharmaceutical opioid drug diversion include[2]:

  • Over-prescribing or unsubstantiated prescribing by practitioners, physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners. 
  • ‘Doctor shopping’
  • Forged prescriptions by patients to illegally acquire controlled opioid drugs for personal misuse and illegal distribution to others.
  • Burglaries or armed robberies of pharmacies and drug distributors.
  • Internal thefts by employees from pharmacies, hospitals, physician offices, nursing homes and veterinary clinics.

Controlled prescription drug diversion by robbery and theft is increasing in some areas of the United States.  According to the DEA Drug Theft and Loss Database, the total number of armed robberies[3]  of DEA registrants where prescription drugs were stolen has fluctuated but increased overall since 2009 (See Table 1)[4].

During the first five months of 2015, Wisconsin recorded more pharmacy (32) robberies (for opioid medications) than it did in all of 2014 (21), placing Wisconsin second only to Indiana in the number of armed robberies by state.

[1] Need source for Current Trends in Milwaukee document

[2] NDTA

[3] The DEA Drug, Theft, and Loss Database compiles information as reported by DEA registrants on armed robberies, customer theft, employee pilferage, CPDs lost in transit, and night break-ins at analytical labs, distributors, exporters, hospitals/clinics, importers, manufacturers, mid-level practitioners, pharmacies, practitioners, researchers, reverse distributors, and teaching institutions. Data are self-reported by registrants.

[4] NDTA