Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Working with the DEA

We work with many agencies in our death investigations. While local police and fire agencies are our most frequent “allies”, we work with a number of others. One that we have been working with more frequently, it seems, is the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

We have worked on a few cases that involve people who died after use of prescription meds purchased over the Internet. Perfectly legal drugs (not tainted or of “different” quality), but purchased via the Internet with prescriptions that are also acquired over the Internet from the same provider as the seller of the med. We have seen this scenario with individuals who inadvertently overdosed while “self-medicating” and, in at least one instance, meds that turned up at a party. We continue to report these instances when they occur and know that the DEA closes down the offending sites when they gather enough evidence to do so.

Also, we have worked with the DEA (and continue to) in instances where a doctor “over-prescribes” and/or a pharmacy “over-dispenses”. Imagine the contribution of a doctor that prescribes several hundred pain pills and anxietolytics at a time, at intervals too short for safety, and in combinations that put individuals at risk of poly-substance overdose. Or imagine a pharmacy allowing and dispensing a pain med prescription with 99 refills, and at quantities and frequencies with a potential to risk patient safety. These cases are reported to the DEA and the IL Dept of Professional Regulation for their review and consideration.

Just like those cases I talked about yesterday, we see ourselves as proactive in preventing future deaths by reacting to components of individual deaths and making certain that those conditions are not repeated with other folks.

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