AmerisourceBergen Urges Policymakers to Support Regulator and Industry Data Transparency to More Effectively Combat Opioid Abuse

November 13, 2017

The Company aims to advance policies to better enable DEA, distributors, and pharmacies to more effectively collaborate to identify and stop nefarious supply chain actors


VALLEY FORGE, PA – AmerisourceBergen, a global healthcare solutions leader, has called on policymakers and regulators to implement new comprehensive guidelines for increased data transparency between the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), drug distributors, and pharmacies. The Company is committed to working collaboratively to help mitigate controlled substance abuse, a complex national crisis, and has urged Congress to take action to enable stronger oversight of opioid ordering and distribution practices.

While opioid prescribing has decreased since its peak in 2012, the number of opioid prescriptions remains high with a national average of 66.5 prescriptions per 100 people in 2016. To make progress in the fight against opioid abuse and address over prescribing, better coordination and cooperation between the DEA, its registrants, and distributors is critical.

“Given the current silos within the supply chain, presently only DEA has access to comprehensive, critically needed data on the total quantities of opioids sold to pharmacies across the U.S.,” said Steven H. Collis, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of AmerisourceBergen. “While distributors are individually required to report controlled substance data to DEA, we currently are not privy to if our peers in the industry are supplying opioid-based medicines to the same pharmacies we are. AmerisourceBergen is committed to working collaboratively to gain access to this data so that all distributors would be better able to detect suspicious orders, and ultimately help stop bad actors in their tracks.”

As a result, AmerisourceBergen urges policymakers and regulators to implement a multi-pronged approach to create stronger ordering and distribution standards:

  • Allow Distributors Access to DEA ARCOS Data:

- Access to “scrubbed” and de-identified data would enable distributors to evaluate                    the full context of a particular pharmacy opioid order, and when that pharmacy is purchasing opioids from multiple distributors.

  • Establish additional Opioid Ordering Protocols:

    - It should be required that all opioid orders be placed through the DEA electronic                  Controlled Substance Ordering System (CSOS). By eliminating manual order                 forms and mandating that all orders be placed digitally, DEA will be able to                          immediately confirm that the pharmacy DEA registration information is accurate and            in good standing.
    - Explore the possibility of modifying the existing CSOS system and process to                       potentially detect whether a pharmacy is purchasing opioids from other distributors,    and the quantities of those opioid orders, before the order is forwarded to the                     distributor for processing.
    - These additional checkpoints would provide the servicing distributor with the                       necessary contextual data to determine whether it will fill, or cancel and report the    order as suspicious.
  • Create New DEA Registrant Classification and Increase DEA Registrant Fees to Provide Funding to Support Enhanced Data Capabilities:

    - Increased DEA registrant fees on the 1.7 million registrants to help fund IT                            enhancement and future enforcement.
    - Create new DEA Registration classifications, such as “Pain Specialty Pharmacy,” that             would require a more in depth investigation by DEA and Boards of Pharmacy                  before issuing a registration/license, require a higher registration fee, and would                   allow distributors and regulators to easily identify pharmacies that will be ordering a    higher volume of opioids in order to implement additional scrutiny and focus on this             classification of business.   

“AmerisourceBergen is eager to collaborate with policymakers and stakeholders throughout the pharmaceutical supply chain to identify avenues through which we can more accurately assess and act on possibly suspicious orders of prescription opioids. We hopefully can work with regulators and policymakers to support these ideas to enhance ARCOS data transparency, and take an important step against opioid abuse in America,” said Collis.


About AmerisourceBergen
AmerisourceBergen provides pharmaceutical products, value-driving services and business solutions that improve access to care. Tens of thousands of healthcare providers, veterinary practices and livestock producers trust us as their partner in the pharmaceutical supply chain. Global manufacturers depend on us for services that drive commercial success for their products. Through our daily work—and powered by our 20,000 associates—we are united in our responsibility to create healthier futures. AmerisourceBergen is ranked #11 on the Fortune 500, with more than $150 billion in annual revenue. The company is headquartered in Valley Forge, Pa. and has a presence in 50+ countries. Learn more at amerisourcebergen.com.