DEA conference hopes to prevent diversion of prescription pills

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SALT LAKE CITY – Statistics indicate that 2013 marked the first time in Utah more people were killed by impaired driving caused by prescription pills than by incidents involving drivers under the influence of alcohol, and officials are hosting a conference to help combat the problem of prescription pill diversion.

DEA officials are partnering with the Utah Department of Health and the Utah Pharmaceutical Drug Community Project to work with pharmacists and pharmacy employees to help prevent instances where prescription pills are diverted to those who shouldn’t have them.

The Pharmacy Diversion Awareness Conference is being held Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is being repeated Sunday during the same hours. The event is being held at the Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek Hotel, 75 South West Temple, and the conference is open to pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and loss prevention personnel.

There is no registration fee to attend. Event organizers stated in a press release: “As dispensers of controlled substances, pharmacists and pharmacy employees are uniquely positioned to prevent diversion activity. In an effort to assist pharmacy personnel in identifying and preventing diversion, the DEA will be hosting a Pharmacy Diversion Awareness Conference.”

The release cited Utah Department of Public Safety crash statistics for 2013 and stated that during that year 30 people were killed as a result of impaired driving caused by prescription drugs while 20 people were killed as a result of impaired driving caused by alcohol.

The release further stated that an average 21 Utahns died each month as a result of prescription drugs in 2012, citing the Utah Department of Health as the source.

Visit the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control website for more information on the problem of prescription pill abuse and the measures being taken to combat the issue.