Bipartisan members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee have expressed concern about diversion of drugs within VA medical facilities, particularly opioids, by VA employees for their own use or to sell.
“I am concerned that VA’s controlled substance oversight program is not working and that staff who fail to follow proper procedures are not being held accountable for violations. In case after case, what we see are examples of drugs being diverted for personal use or personal gain, yet there does not seem to be much progress being made by VA to correct the glaring problems that allow it to happen,” said Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Mich., chair of the investigations subcommittee.
“The VA health system is one of the nation’s leading prescribers of opioids. Diversion in the VA threatens the safety of veterans and hampers efforts to address the opioid epidemic. Preventing diversion of these substances should be a paramount concern,” said Rep. Ann Kuster, D-N.H., the ranking Democrat.
The panel held a hearing to examine a recent GAO report finding that two of four medical facilities it examined did not conduct monthly inspections of controlled substances as required; inspections that three of them performed did not include or follow three or more of the nine requirements GAO reviewed; and at two, inspectors did not properly verify that controlled substances had been transferred from VA pharmacies to patient care areas, nor did inspectors ensure that all controlled substances on hold for destruction were properly documented.
The VA IG identified similar inspection program weaknesses at other VA facilities in 2009 and 2014.