Division of State Government Accountability
To determine whether the Bureau of Narcoc Enforcement (Bureau) is eecvely and ecientlycombang prescripon drug diversion and abuse in New York State. The audit covers the periodApril 1, 2007 through March 8, 2012.
Illegal use of prescripon drugs is an escalang problem that drives up healthcare costs andthreatens the safety of all cizens. So great is the problem that the Centers for Disease Controland Prevenon has classied abuse and diversion of prescripon drugs as an epidemic and thenaon’s fastest growing drug problem. The underground market for these drugs is fueled inlarge part by individuals and criminal groups who use fraudulent taccs to acquire powerful andaddicve medicaons, including painkillers like Oxycodone, Fentanyl or Morphine; smulantslike amphetamines or Ritalin; and hypnoc drugs and sleep aids like Ambien. The Bureau isresponsible for combang these illegal acvies by overseeing the State’s Ocial PrescriponProgram and invesgang suspected cases of drug diversion and abuse. To this end, it maintainsa database of all New York State prescripons used to acquire controlled substances.
The Bureau has a signicant amount of informaon and resources at its disposal to combat illegaldrug acvity. Our audit idened several areas where improvements are needed to ensure theseresources are used eecvely to stem the growing problem of prescripon drug diversion andabuse through a range of eorts from prevenon and deterrence, to detecon and prosecuon.• By applying data mining techniques to 15 months of the Bureau’s prescripon data, we culledmore than 565,000 lled prescripons that contained errors or inconsistencies. These include67,000 prescripons for drugs like Oxycodone, each potenally used mulple mes for a totalof almost 180,000 transacons at dierent pharmacies and/or containing dierent informaonabout the prescribers or the drugs involved. While we recognize further assessment andrenement of the data is needed, analyses like this can pinpoint paerns and relaonships thatidenfy criminal acvity.• The Bureau does not always properly secure or monitor returned prescripon forms. As a result,
data shows thousands of unused forms, supposedly destroyed, may actually have been used toobtain controlled substances.
• The Bureau’s previous management failed to establish consistent invesgave priories amongits regional oces, making the Bureau less eecve in detecng and ceasing criminal conduct.• Some Bureau funding was used for other acvies or should have been used more eciently,including over $43,000 of computer equipment purchased several years ago, the majority of which was sll not in use by the end of 2011.During our audit, we provided Department ocials with preliminary ndings detailing ourobservaons and recommendaons. At the conclusion of our eldwork and shortly thereaer,the Department announced several changes to Bureau operaons including installaon of newleadership, implementaon of new data mining strategies and plans to eliminate the paper-based