Comprehensive Approach Needed To Help Control Prescription Drug Abuse

Gao ID: GGD-83-2 October 29, 1982

Because of longstanding congressional concern over the seriousness of prescription drug abuse, GAO examined efforts to control prescription drugs at the retail level.

Most abused prescription drugs are obtained at the retail level. Unintentional misprescribing by doctors, pharmacy thefts, illegal sales by pharmacists, and forged prescriptions are among the various ways by which abused prescription drugs are obtained. Legally obtained drugs appear to be involved in a major portion of the abuse taking place; however, this form of abuse is beyond the reach of law enforcement. A comprehensive and coordinated response involving the Federal Government, State and local governments, and professional associations is needed. With Federal help, each State must assess its own prescription drug abuse problem and develop a plan of action that combines elements of law enforcement, regulation, education, and professional peer pressure. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently reduced its oversight at the wholesale level and increased its criminal investigations of retail practitioners.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: Arnold P. Jones Team: General Accounting Office: General Government Division Phone: (202) 512-7797

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