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The estimated number of buprenorphine drug items secured in law enforcement operations and analyzed by state and local forensic laboratories has increased dramatically since 2003, according to data from National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS). NFLIS, a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) program, provides a means to monitor the diversion of legitimately marketed drugs into illicit channels. Since 2003, the number of buprenorphine drug items analyzed has increased from 21 to 8,172. In comparison, the number of methadone drug items seized and analyzed nearly doubled from 2003 to 2006, then only increased 9% from 2006 to 2009. According to the DEA, “While methadone is still more prevalent in terms of reporting in NFLIS, buprenorphine has increased at a sharper rate, indicating a need for continued monitoring. This is especially true considering the level at which buprenorphine is being distributed and prescribed for legal medical purposes” (p. 10) (see CESAR FAX, Volume 20, Issue 23 for more information on retail sales of buprenorphine).


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