No, it has nothing to do with Breaking Bad or any other action-packed crime show on television. A DEA number is actually a term that health care providers use. Below, we’ll cover what a DEA number is, why they’re important, and the registration process for obtaining one. Continue reading for a complete DEA number guide for health care professionals!
What is a DEA Number?
A DEA number is a set of digits which allows health care providers to write prescriptions for controlled substances. Each practitioner has their own unique number so that they can be identified. These identification numbers are issued by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and though it can be used as a general identification number, the administration prefers it only be used for authenticating and tracking prescriptions of controlled substances. The DEA discourages unnecessary use of DEA numbers because this compromises their registration system. Physicians, dentists, veterinarians, and other health care providers should ideally use their National Provider Identifier for general identification.
What is the Purpose of a DEA Number?
The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 was created to tackle drug abuse in the United States, a problem that was rampant in the 1960s. This act classifies drugs into five categories, or schedules, in order to determine their potential for abuse. DEA numbers help the administration manage the distribution of controlled prescription substances. The ability to track prescriptions and prescribers helps the DEA ensure that health care providers are only issuing the correct substances and quantities to their patients.
What Do DEA Numbers Cover?
DEA numbers are required for drugs classified under the Controlled Substances Act as Schedule II-V. Schedule I drugs such as heroin and LSD are not on this list because they are illegal and have no medicinal use. The DEA revises its scheduling classifications each year.
A few examples of prescription drugs which DEA numbers cover are:
DEA Number Format
Each valid DEA number has 2 letters, 6 numbers, and a check digit. The first letter identifies the registrant type. Examples include letters such as “B” for hospitals or clinics and “C” for practitioners. The second letter in the sequence is the first letter of the registrant’s name. If the applicant is using a business address instead of their name, then a “9” would be placed in this slot.
Seven digits follow these two beginning letters, and the seventh digit in the sequence is a checksum which is calculated using a series of steps.
The steps for calculating this number are as follows:
- Add the first, third, and fifth digits together and call this sum CALC1,3,5
- Add the second, fourth, and sixth digits together and multiply the sum by 2. Call this CALC2,4,6
- Add CALC1,3,5 + CALC2,4,6 and call this CHECK
- The rightmost digit of CHECK (the digit in the one’s place) is used as the check digit in a DEA number
Following these steps can determine the validity of a DEA number issued to a provider.
How to Register or Renew a DEA Number
Forms for DEA number applications and renewals can be found by visiting the DEA Diversion Control Division’s website. Here you can complete and submit an online application or get the DEA’s mailing address to submit a paper form. The DEA recommends completing an online application because they can be processed more quickly. You should also expect registration and processing fees.
For new applications, the average processing time is four to six weeks. You should double-check that your application is complete before you submit your forms. If the information is incomplete or inaccurate, this could lengthen the processing time.
For renewal applications, a person must apply for new registration at least 60 days before the expiration date of their previous registration. The DEA sends renewal notification to remind you of these expiration dates. If your address has changed, you must report it to the DEA in writing at the time the change occurs. If you forget to do this, your information will be considered inaccurate.
So, there you have it. DEA numbers may not be for government agents, but they’re still incredibly important when it comes to combatting drug abuse in this country. A systemic problem such as this does not have any easy solutions, but being able to track prescribers and prescriptions helps to mitigate the problem. Without this accountability, it would be harder to prevent patients from abusing prescription drugs.
Do you have any questions regarding your DEA number? Do you have any other information you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below! We would love to hear from you.