DEA contributes to shortages of drugs with controlled substances

A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds DEA has contributed to a noticeable shortage of prescription drugs containing controlled substances, such as narcotics and stimulants, causing difficulties for both patients and physicians.

A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds DEA has contributed to a noticeable shortage of prescription drugs containing controlled substances, such as narcotics and stimulants, causing difficulties for both patients and physicians. Controlled substances are regulated by DEA, and to prevent diversion, the agency sets quotas that limit the amount that can be produced. DEA, however, has not effectively managed the quota process and this has contributed to product shortages, according to the GAO report. "Each year, manufacturers apply to DEA for quotas needed to make their drugs," the report states. "DEA, however, has not responded to [the drug makers] within the timeframes required by its regulations for any year from 2001 through 2014… Manufacturers who reported quota-related shortages cited late quota decisions as causing or exacerbating shortages of their drugs." DEA disputes some of the findings and argues that some of the problems stem from disagreements with FDA, notably, that the two agencies have differing views on how to define prescription drug shortages.