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HDA Calls for “Universal” Suspicious Orders Database to Enhance Efforts Against Diversion, Misuse

February 22, 2018

ARLINGTON, Va. — In a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Acting Administrator Robert Patterson, Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) President and CEO John M. Gray called for a “universal” database to support enhanced monitoring of suspicious orders of controlled substances, including controlled opioid drugs. While the DEA has indicated that it currently is developing a suspicious orders database for its own use, HDA’s latest letter calls for the agency to share this data, and DEA’s advanced analytical tools, with state regulators and state/local law enforcement officials to improve information sharing and coordination.

The Alliance also reiterated its request for the agency to publish a long-awaited proposed rule on suspicious orders monitoring to provide industry and state regulatory bodies clarity as they work to mitigate prescription drug abuse.

HDA has long advocated for increased transparency from the DEA related to the flow of controlled substances in the market. Key highlights from the letter to acting DEA Acting Administrator Patterson are included below:

  • “HDA supports DEA’s development of an online system through which HDA members will be able to report suspicious orders…While the reporting requirement has been in place for some time, DEA has not previously specified a reporting format. This data management system, with standardized online reporting, should help DEA identify trends that indicate that a pharmacy or other dispenser should no longer be permitted to handle controlled substances.”

  • “HDA believes that this suspicious order data management system can do more. Specifically, HDA asks DEA to allow state regulators and DEA's state and local law enforcement partners to access DEA’s database, effectively creating a Universal Suspicious Orders Database. By creating a Universal Suspicious Orders Database, DEA would improve on today’s diverse and sometimes uneven data sharing.”

  • “HDA members are required to provide their DEA suspicious order reports to some state regulatory entities, most commonly the Boards of Pharmacy. Likewise, we understand that DEA shares data with state and local law enforcement in certain circumstances. Just as DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squad program allows for improved information flow and coordination between federal, state, and local partners, so would the sharing of DEA’s suspicious orders database with state and local officials.”

  • “This Universal Suspicious Orders Database would significantly advance states’ ability to analyze and act on important public health issues, including opioid overuse and abuse. State Boards often lack the resources to establish the sophisticated data analytics that DEA’s database will provide.”

  • “HDA and its members eagerly anticipate DEA’s publication of a proposed rule on suspicious orders in March 2018, as indicated in the Unified Regulatory Agenda. Because DEA’s expectations form the backbone for not only HDA members’ activities but also for most states’ requirements, many are interested in the content. We encourage DEA to collaborate closely with state regulatory bodies.”

HDA members continue to do their part to protect the integrity of the prescription drug supply chain and to ensure patients have access to safe, effective treatments. For more information on these efforts, click here.


The Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) represents primary pharmaceutical distributors — the vital link between the nation’s pharmaceutical manufacturers and pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics and others nationwide. Since 1876, HDA has helped members navigate regulations and innovations to get the right medicines to the right patients at the right time, safely and efficiently. The HDA Research Foundation, HDA’s nonprofit charitable foundation, serves the healthcare industry by providing research and education focused on priority healthcare supply chain issues.


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