New DEA reporting system for suspicious orders of controlled substances
On October 23, 2019, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced the launch of the Suspicious Orders Report System (SORS) Online, a new centralized database, where DEA registrants, including veterinarians, must report suspicious orders of controlled substances. The announcement has confused veterinarians as to what they’re required to report. Staff at the AVMA’s Governmental Relations Division contacted the DEA and received clarification on what the new reporting system means for veterinarians. The good news is that the impact is minimal, but here’s what is important to know:
Reporting by practitioner registrants and creation of the database by DEA was required when Congress passed the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act (SUPPORT Act) last year. The DEA indicates that reporting a suspicious order to SORS Online constitutes compliance with the reporting requirement.
- The reporting requirement applies to all DEA registrants, including veterinarians. This is why veterinarians who are DEA registrants have been receiving communication from the DEA on the SUPPORT Act.
- The circumstances under which it will impact veterinarians should be extremely limited, but the Act does apply to them.
- All DEA registrants, including veterinarians, are required to design and operate a system to identify suspicious orders for the registrant and to report suspicious orders to the DEA. The DEA advised that the plan should be in writing and could be requested during an inspection.
- Suspicious orders are defined as including requests for controlled substances of unusual size, deviating substantially from a normal pattern and orders of unusual frequency.
- The DEA also said the definition is not inclusive and a veterinarian should report anytime there is something that makes the veterinarian suspicious.
- The AVMA is looking to develop a brief model plan that can be utilized.
- The reporting requirement applies anytime a registrant, including a veterinarian, is requested to distribute/provide a controlled substance to another registrant under circumstances identified by the registrant as suspicious. The example provided by DEA was where a veterinarian at one clinic asks to obtain a controlled substance from another veterinarian at a different clinic, such as seeking to obtain ketamine from a nearby clinic due to low inventory. A veterinarian who receives a request to provide a controlled substance to another practitioner must be aware of the requirement to report the ‘order’ if the circumstances raise any suspicion to believe that the controlled substance will go for an illegal or diversionary purpose.
- The reporting requirement and SORS Online database are solely for reporting transfers of a controlled substance from one DEA registrant to another DEA registrant that seem suspicious. Veterinarians are not to report to the SORS Online reporting system anything related to the administration, prescribing or dispensing of controlled substances that occur in the ordinary course of veterinary practice. The SORS Online database is also not to be used for reporting suspicious or drug-seeking behavior of clients.
- If a veterinarian believes a request from another practitioner is suspicious, the veterinarian should not supply the controlled substance. The veterinarian should register for the program on the DEA website and report the order to the electronic database (SORS Online). A veterinarian only needs to register for the database at the time of the need to file a report of a suspicious order.
- The DEA will be promulgating rules that will be published in the Federal Register. AVMA will review the rules and respond as appropriate.
Posted November 1, 2019