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DEA hikes registration fees for controlled substance prescriptions

The federal agency says the move is necessary to maintain operations, but prescribers say the higher charge may place a significant burden on some physicians.

By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted April 9, 2012

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Drug Enforcement Administration registration fees will increase nearly 33% on April 16. Medical organizations say the move means that physicians will bear an even more disproportionate share of expenses related to drug diversion control.

Physicians seeking to renew their three-year registration with the agency to prescribe pain drugs, stimulant medications and other substances will have to pay $731. The fee last went up in November 2006, when it was $551.

Registration cannot be renewed before April 16 to avoid the price increase unless the registration is due for renewal anyway. The new rules were published March 15 in the Federal Register.

A DEA spokesman said the agency has left some jobs unfilled and attempted to reduce expenses to forestall increasing license fees for about five years.

“We tried to hold the fee as long as possible,” said Gary Boggs, executive assistant to the deputy assistant administrator for the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control.

Physicians expressed concerns about the fee hike.

“DEA physician registration fees were too high even before this new fee increase,” said American Medical Association President Peter W. Carmel, MD. “The DEA has acknowledged that its costs associated with oversight of manufacturers are higher than for practitioners, and it is possible that the physician DEA registration fees are subsidizing the relatively low fees paid by manufacturers. The AMA is concerned that physicians in underserved communities will be especially hard hit by this fee hike and urges the DEA to consider whether its current fee categories may need to be revised.”

All parties involved in the manufacturing, dispensing and prescribing of controlled substances pay registration fees to the DEA to cover costs related to preventing drug diversion. Drug manufacturers of controlled substances pay registration fees annually. Their charge went up more than 32%, to $3,037 from $2,293 in 2006.

The DEA has 1.4 million registrants, including manufacturers, drug distributors and physicians.

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External links

Controlled Substances and List I Chemical Registration and Reregistration Fees, Federal Register, March 15 (link)

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