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“Suspicious Order Monitoring”

DEA Chronicles By Larry P. Cote and D. Linden Barber

…to infinity and beyond! For years manufacturers and distributors have searched for the holy grail of DEA compliance – specific guidance from DEA on what actually constitutes a suspicious order. The obvious source of assistance and the sole legal basis establishing the requirement to detect and report suspicious orders is found in DEA’s own regulations. Those 59 words contained in 21 C.F.R. 1301.74(b) have confounded DEA registrants and DEA’s own agents and investigators for years. DEA, however, does not appear to be limited by the terms of the Agency’s duly promulgated regulations. In a brief filed in the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on behalf of the DEA (Walgreen Co. v DEA et al.; 12-1397), the Government takes the position that orders may be suspicious for reasons other than the criteria set forth in DEA’s regulations. DEA further states that it has been the Agency’s long-standing belief that the Controlled Substances Act requires distributors to conduct due diligence before filling suspicious orders. Not only is there no basis in the law to support such a position, the notion that this is the Agency’s long-standing belief directly contradicts recent testimony in district court by a DEA official. The search goes on….