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Drug Diversion & Abuse: The Costs to Companies

Updated: Sep 13, 2021

Drug Diversion is the transfer of a controlled substance from a lawful to an unlawful route of distribution. The ramifications of drug diversion can produce a powerful financial liability and risk to the organization.


Categories of Cost

There are three areas where costs can be linked to illegal drug diversion from facilities that are tasked with handling prescription medications.

  • Lost labor productivity costs due to drug abuse treatment, incarceration, and death.

  • Governmental costs due to investigation, prosecution, and incarceration.

  • Social program costs due to insurance payouts for addiction treatments and death payouts for overdoses.

High-Risk Areas for Drug Loss

While it is indisputable that organizations that handle prescription drugs are at risk for diversion, there are certain locations that have a higher risk for diversion.

  • Brick and Mortar Pharmacies

  • Hospital Pharmacies

  • Long-Term/Retirement Facilities

The temptation for diversion and theft occurs when “returns,” expired or recalled drugs wait for pending transfer for destruction.


Financial Facts

It is easy to understand how costs from drug diversion happen, but what is harder to comprehend is the actual and alarming monetary statistics and their impacts.

As the cost of drug addiction and treatment continues to grow in the U.S., there is an anticipation in the industry that there will be a shift in liability and cost to the organizations and facilities that dispense controlled substances.

Proactive Practices

The best solution to the financial burden of drug diversion is a proactive stronghold to prevent opportunities for the controlled substances to deviate from the allocated path to non-retrievable pharmaceutical waste. Often there is a lack of policies and controls in place to mitigate the temptation for diversion within high-risk areas of a facility.

Simple safeguards and policies that are enforced can deter if not eliminate the opportunities for internal drug diversion.

  • Continued enforcement of safeguards and policies can deter opportunities for drug diversion

  • Compounding records and documentation of waste creates traceable accountability of individuals with access to controlled substances

  • Randomized audits of these reports can allow administrators to determine and pinpoint potential drug diversions

  • A “rule of two” dictates that at least two people are physically present to conduct, witness, and certify activity with pharmaceutical waste.

With the anticipation of future liability landing on facilities and organizations, an organization's drug diversion culture is key to its success. Now is the time to allow Cardinal Business LLC to help take the proactive approach for removing the temptations for drug diversion. Call us today or connect with one of our experts to learn how we can be a part of your facilities' proactive culture to decrease and eliminate drug diversion opportunities.




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