Drug Enforcement Administration Number Guide for Providers

Providers of health care use the term DEA number. The following article will explain a DEA number, why it’s important, and how to obtain one. For a complete guide on DEA numbers, keep reading!

DEA Numbers: what are they?

DEA numbers allow health care providers to prescribe controlled substances. Each practitioner has a unique number. Although they can be used as general identification numbers, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) prefers they only be used to authenticate and track controlled substance prescriptions. It compromises the DEA’s registration system, so they discourage using DEA numbers. Learning more about DEA number lookup is ideal for physicians, dentists, veterinarians, and other health care providers.

Why do I need a DEA number?

Drug abuse in the United States was rampant in the 1960s, so the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act was created to combat the problem. The act categorizes drugs according to their potential for abuse into five categories. DEA numbers help the administration manage controlled prescription drug distribution. The DEA can track prescriptions and prescribers, so patients receive the right medications and quantities.

How Do DEA Numbers Work?

Schedule II-V controlled substances require DEA numbers; however, Schedule I drugs have no medical value and are illegal. Schedules are revised annually by the DEA. DEA numbers cover the following prescription drugs:







DEA Number Format

DEA numbers have two letters, six numbers, and a check digit. It identifies the registrant type. Clinics or hospitals may use “B,” and practitioners may use “C.” A registrant’s name begins with the second letter in the sequence. Applicants who use their business address instead of their name will put a “9” here. After these two letters, seven digits follow, and the seventh digit is a checksum calculated in a series of steps. 

Calculating this number involves the following steps:

  • Calculate CALC1,3,5 by adding the first, third, and fifth digits together
  • Adding the second, fourth, and sixth digits together and multiplying them by two will yield the answer. Let’s call this CALC2,4,6
  • Call this CHECK by adding CALC1,3,5 + CALC2,4,6
  • A DEA number’s check digit is the rightmost digit of CHECK (the digit in the place of one)

DEA Registration and Renewal

On the DEA Diversion Control Division’s website, you can find forms for DEA number applications and renewals. Online or paper applications can be submitted here, while online are processed more quickly by the DEA. Fees for registration and processing are also expected.

Four to six weeks is the average processing time for new applications. Please make sure all forms are complete before submitting them. It could take longer to process incomplete or inaccurate information.

For renewals, a person must apply 60 days before their previous registration expires. The DEA reminds these expiration dates. At the time of the change, you must notify the DEA in writing. Inaccurate information will result if you forget to do this.

That’s it. Drug abuse prevention still relies heavily on DEA numbers, even if they aren’t for government agents. There is no simple solution to systemic problems like this, but tracking prescribers and prescriptions helps mitigate them. Prescription drug abuse would be harder to prevent without accountability.

Leave a Reply