What Is Drug Diversion?

Every year, more than a million people receive treatment in the emergency room due to the misuse of prescription medications, with more than 40 deaths per day occurring due to the misuse of prescription pain medications alone. When individuals obtain prescription medications from a legitimate medical source and then use or sell them illegally, this is called drug diversion, as a drug lawyer in Hayes Valley San Francisco, CA, like from Hallinan Law Firm, can explain.

How Does Drug Diversion Happen?

There are many ways drug diversion can occur. A patient may go to multiple doctors seeking the same prescription and either take the excess medication recreationally or sell it. Friends, family members or neighbors may steal prescription medications from others. Doctors may sign or change prescriptions to divert medications to the illegal drug market. Pharmacy employees and other healthcare or drug manufacturing workers with access to medications may steal from patients or their employers.

Why Does Drug Diversion Happen?

Many people mistakenly believe that the illicit use of prescription drugs is safer than common illegal street drugs. It is also easier for many people to obtain prescription medications illegally, than other types of drugs.

Additionally, some people take medications, such as opioids, for legitimate pain and then seek them illegally after their prescriptions run out because they have become dependent. Drug diversion also occurs because unscrupulous doctors, pharmacists and drug manufacturers defraud Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance companies to make money off illegal sales of prescription medications.

What Are the Consequences of Drug Diversion?

Drug diversion can lead to poorer outcomes for patients who do not receive needed medications diverted by healthcare workers. It also contributes to drug addiction issues, such as the opioid crisis. Additionally, drug diversion drives up the price of healthcare, costing government programs and private insurance companies millions of dollars every year.

How Can Drug Diversion Be Prevented?

You can help avoid contributing to the drug diversion problem by always using medications as prescribed, keeping your prescription medications in a safe location and safely discarding any unused medications. If you suspect someone of illegally using or diverting prescription medications, you can report the suspected activity to local law enforcement, your State Medicaid agency, Inspector General or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Drug diversion is a serious legal issue. If you have legal concerns related to prescription medication misuse, an attorney in your area may be able to help you. Contact an attorney today to receive a case evaluation or legal advice.