iStock 000000407659XSmall (Small)The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office launched its Pharmaceutical Diversion Investigative Unit in 2009 to combat a deadly problem affecting far too many area residents. The goal is to crack down on prescription fraud, reduce what is known as “doctor shopping,” and ultimately minimize the number of people who are overdosing on potent pain medications and other legal pharmaceutical drugs that are harmful and often lethal when taken without physician direction and supervision.

While the Sheriff’s Office is the lead agency in this endeavor, there is a cooperative effort with local, state and federal agencies, national organizations such as the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI), nonprofit groups such as First Step and Families Against Addictive Drug Abuse (FAADA), the Medical Examiner’s Office, the Department of Health, as well as physicians and pharmacists throughout Sarasota County. “Drug Free Sarasota” is leading the community initiative related to substance abuse prevention.

The Pharmaceutical Diversion Investigative Unit focuses on education, enforcement and the appropriate disposal of medication that has expired or is no longer needed.

To keep controlled substances out of the wrong hands and provide a disposal method that is safe for the environment, the Sheriff's Office has installed permanent drop boxes at its north and south office locations.

We also conduct high school assemblies in cooperation with the NOPE Task Force, and create consumer awareness campaigns.

Community members can help by reporting anyone who might be obtaining, using or selling pharmaceutical drugs improperly. Click here to submit a tip.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently launched a pill mill tipline, (888) 954-4662 or information can be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To contact the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office Pharmaceutical Diversion Investigative Unit, call 941.861.4963 or fax 941.861.4002.

Also, click here to learn more about Safe Rx, a regional effort by 12 hospitals and four county health departments to encourage safe and responsible use or prescription drugs.