Failure of enforcement controlled substance laws in health policy for prescribing opiate medications: a painful assessment of morbidity and mortality

Am J Ther. 2006 Nov-Dec;13(6):527-33. doi: 10.1097/01.mjt.0000212702.94495.25.


Controlled substances can be used for legitimate medical purposes to relieve pain and suffering, and allow management of medical and surgical conditions, whether acute or chronic in duration. However, because these are attractive, addicting drugs, diversion from sources such as physicians and pharmacists can lead to serious health problems. Of importance is that addiction to opiate medications can interfere with treatment of the original pain condition, and can lead to life threatening states because of poor judgment and depressed mood in the users. Consequently, the public has a vested interest in protecting the medical uses of these medications on the one hand, although reducing the morbidity and mortality from their diversion and addictive use. The controlled substance laws contain 3 sources of policy framework that governs the medical use and diversion of controlled substances: (1) international treaties, (2) federal laws and regulations, and (3) state laws and regulations. These laws are aimed at balancing the need to controlling use with adverse consequences against the therapeutic benefits opiate medications provide the public.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects*
  • Drug Industry / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Drug Prescriptions*
  • Drug and Narcotic Control / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Federal Government
  • Government Regulation
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Law Enforcement*
  • Liability, Legal
  • Malpractice / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / mortality*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Professional Misconduct / legislation & jurisprudence
  • State Government
  • United States


  • Analgesics, Opioid