The diversion of controlled pharmaceuticals has reached epidemic proportions in the United States.

One of the nation’s experts in preventing, detecting and investigating this diversion will be a keynote presenter at the first National Rx Drug Abuse Summit next April.

Joseph T. Rannazzisi, deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Diversion Control in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), brings a unique perspective to the nation’s fight against substance abuse.

“Mr. Rannazzisi’s experience with the DEA, combined with his background as a pharmacist and lawyer, provides a unique perspective on stopping illegal activity, while at the same time ensuring these drugs continue to be available for legitimate medical needs,” said Karen Kelly, president/CEO of Operation UNITE (Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education), a Kentucky-based organization coordinating the event.

The Summit, which will be held in Florida April 10-12, 2012, is intended to foster better understanding and cooperation between all groups – state and national leaders, law enforcement officials, medical professionals, community advocates, treatment experts, educators, private industry leaders, and others – who are finding success in battling this nationwide epidemic.

“Diversion of prescription medications from their legitimate medical uses impacts every American, not only through the devastating personal toll exacted on individuals and their families, but on an economic level as well,” Kelly stated. “This Summit encourages proactive dialogue with national experts to identify data-driven policies and solutions.”

Rannazzisi is a 25-year career Special Agent who has held supervisory positions over areas such as clandestine labs, dangerous drugs and chemicals, enforcement, and division administration. He was appointed to his current position in 2006.

He is responsible for overseeing and coordinating major pharmaceutical, precursor chemical, clandestine laboratory and synthetic drug investigations; the drafting and promulgating of regulations; establishing drug production quotas; and serves as liaison to the pharmaceutical industry, international governments, state governments, federal agencies and law enforcement agencies.

Joining Rannazzisi as a keynote presenter during the Summit will be Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health, one of the nation’s foremost experts on the neurological effects of drug addiction.