Patterns of Prescription Medication Diversion among Drug Dealers
Department of Justice and Human Services
Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy
This research examined the following questions: (1) how do drug dealers acquire their inventories of prescription medications? and (2) which types of prescription medications do dealers most commonly sell? Data are drawn from a National Institute on Drug Abuse-funded research study that examined prescription drug diversion and abuse in South Florida. In-depth semi-structured interviews (n = 50) were conducted with an ethnically diverse sample of prescription drug dealers from a variety of milieus to assess patterns of diversion. Audiotapes of the interviews were transcribed, coded, and thematically analysed using the NVivo 8 software program. Dealers relied on a wide array of diversion methods including visiting multiple pain clinics, working with pharmacy employees to steal medications from pharmacies, and purchasing medications from indigent patients. The type of medication most commonly sold by dealers was prescription opioid analgesics, and to a lesser extent benzodiazepines such as alprazolam. These findings inform public health policy makers, criminal justice officials, the pharmaceutical industry and government regulatory agencies in their efforts to reduce the availability of diverted prescription drugs in the illicit market. Specifically, these data support the need for statewide prescription drug monitoring programs and increased training for healthcare workers who have access to controlled medications.
Rigg, K. K., Kurtz, S. P., & Surratt, H. L. (2012). Patterns of Prescription Medication Diversion among Drug Dealers. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 19 (2), 144-155. https://doi.org/10.3109/09687637.2011.631197