DEA Enforcement in Long-Term Care: Is a Collaborative Correction Feasible?

Rebecca D. Elon, Claudia Schlosberg, Steven Levenson, Nicole Brandt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances within long-term care facilities is an important and complex issue from both the clinical and the public policy perspectives. This article reviews the regulatory background and clinical concerns regarding the enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act by the Drug Enforcement Administration within the institutional pharmacies serving long-term care facilities. The article argues that the processes implemented since 2009 in response to concerns about Drug Enforcement Administration enforcement are suboptimal at many levels. A robust solution that meets the needs of all parties involved will require multiple levels of collaboration and respect for several legitimate agendas pertinent to this issue. The comprehensive solution must address at least 4 concerns. It must ensure that (1) residents and patients of long-term care facilities receive appropriate and timely administration of controlled substances when they are part of their individualized plans of care; (2) long-term care facilities have rigorous processes in place to prevent diversion of controlled substances; (3) required processes for prescribing controlled substances are reasonable and not overly burdensome to the clinicians caring for this population; and (4) all parties are in compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements. The solution, however, will likely require legislative amendments to the Controlled Substances Act and regulatory revisions for optimal outcomes. The debate surrounding the enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act within long-term care facilities is ongoing and the parameters are in flux. This article provides a historical perspective and policy framework for understanding the topic, reviews various proposed solutions, and suggests a collaborative process for resolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-269
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Controlled Substances Act
  • DEA
  • Enforcement
  • Institutional pharmacies
  • LTC
  • Senate Special Committee on Aging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Health Policy
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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