The Drug Enforcement Administration now has the power to reduce the number of opioids produced each year, the Department of Justice said Wednesday.
The move follows up on an April pledge by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to review whether or not the DEA should have the power to modify drug production quotas.
Every year, the DEA sets the production and manufacturing quotas for Schedule I and II controlled substances. But now, the DEA has the authority to reduce those quotas for a particular drug or company if it feels an opioid is being diverted for misuse.
In 2017, the DEA decreased all opioid production by 25 percent.
“Today’s new rule, by taking diversion of these opioids into account, will allow to DEA to be more responsive to the facts on the ground,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “More importantly, it will help us stop and even prevent diversion from taking place.”
The rule, published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, also allows the DEA to consider information from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control, when making quota decisions.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle had been demanding a reduction in opioid quotas. Last July, 15 Democratic senators and Sen. Angus King, Maine independent, sent a letter to then-acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg asking him to reduce the opioid quotas in 2018. The letter said that between 1993 and 2015, the DEA approved double-digit increases of three opioids — oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl, which has been linked to overdose deaths.
In December 2017, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a Republican, filed a lawsuit against the DEA asking for more transparency and input into the quote process. The lawsuit also challenged the 2018 production quotas.
Mr. Morrisey’s lawsuit was put on hold earlier this year after Mr. Sessions said he would review the quota process.
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