DEA numbers and what they designate
- DEA Numbers: There's More Than Meets The Eye!
Drug diversion, best defined as the diversion of drugs from a legal and
medically necessary use toward uses that are illegal and not medically
necessary, is a significant and rising threat in the United States. According to
the 2011 National Drug Threat Assessment report, approximately 7 million
individuals aged 12 or older were current non-medical users of controlled
prescription drugs (CPDs) in 2009, and the number of prescription overdose
deaths exceeds the number of cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine deaths
The US Department of Justice, DEA's Office of Diversion Control tasks
pharmacists with the responsibility to protect their practice from becoming an
easy target for drug control, as well as maintaining constant vigilance to
look for altered or forged prescriptions. One of the ways to do that is to
understand the DEA Numbering system, which is necessary for pharmacists,
but can also be helpful for fraud investigators as well.
In order to write prescriptions for patients, every provider, facility,
etc. must apply for and is assigned a DEA number. Did you know there is
actually a standardized formula that goes into assigning the numbers?
According to the US Department of Justice, DEA Office of Diversion
Prior to October 1, 1985, DEA registration numbers for physicians,
dentists, veterinarians, and other practitioners started with the letter A. New
registration numbers issued to practitioners after that date begin with the
letter B or F*. Registration numbers issued to mid-level practitioners begin
with the letter M. The first letter of the registration number is almost
always followed by the first letter of the registrant's last name (e.g., J
for Jones or S for Smith) and then a computer generated sequence of seven
numbers (such as MJ3614511)." 
*(Note: due to the large Type A (Practitioner) registrant population, the
initial alpha letter "B" has been exhausted. DEA will begin using the new
alpha letter "F" as the initial character for all new registration for Type
A (Practitioner) registrations) 
The computer generated sequence is not merely random. It is designed to be
a mathematical sequence that can be used to check the validity of the
Here are the steps to verify a DEA number :
Step 1: add the first, third, and fifth digits of the DEA number.
Step 2: add the second, fourth, and sixth digits of the DEA number.
Step 3: multiply the result of Step 2 by two.
Step 4: add the result of Step 1 to the result of Step 3.
Then, the last digit of this sum must be the same as the last digit of the
Example: DEA number for Dr. Peters: BP5836727
Step 1: 5 + 3 + 7 = 15
Step 2: 8 + 6 + 2 = 16
Step 3: 16 * 2 = 32
Step 4: 15 + 32 = 47
If you come across suspicious prescriptions or DEA numbers in your
investigations, remember to use the above formula as one of your tools to validate
the provider's DEA number listed!
 _National Drug Threat Assessment 2011.August 2011: Page 1-2._
 _DEA Manual_
 _DEA Registration_
 _Williams, D. H, RPh, FASHP; Washington University, Title of
Presentation: Controlled Substances Rules, Slides 13-14._
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