Watchdog finds DEA was ‘slow to respond’ to opioid epidemic

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MIKE BALSAMO and GEOFF MULVIHILL

AP,

12:37 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Drug Enforcement Administration was “slow to respond” as America grappled with a rising opioid epidemic, the Justice Division’s inspector normal mentioned in a report Tuesday that faulted the company for reducing again use of a key enforcement device and persevering with to lift manufacturing quotas even because the variety of deaths rose.

“Unlike past drug crises, in combating the current opioid epidemic DEA failed to develop a comprehensive national strategy that could have focused and directed its regulatory and enforcement efforts,” the watchdog report discovered.

Among the findings might bolster the claims of drugmakers and distributors who’ve mentioned the federal government ought to share the blame for the disaster. The primary federal trial on the disaster, coping with claims in opposition to the drug trade from two Ohio counties, is scheduled to start later this month in Cleveland.

Opioids, a category of medicine that features highly effective prescription painkillers akin to OxyContin and Vicodin and unlawful medicine together with heroin and illicitly made fentanyl, have been linked to greater than 400,000 deaths within the U.S. since 2000.

The report examined the DEA’s regulatory and enforcement efforts to regulate opioids for the reason that disaster started to come back into focus. It discovered that because the variety of opioid-related deaths drastically elevated between 2013 and 2017, the DEA considerably lowered utilizing considered one of its key enforcement instruments — the power to droop producers, distributors and different registrants to maintain medicine from being diverted.

It additionally discovered the DEA raised the annual quota of the quantity of oxycodone that may be manufactured by almost 400 % from 2002 to 2013.

Within the report, weaknesses have been recognized within the DEA’s registration course of, which allowed producers, distributors and well being care suppliers to instantly reapply after their registration was revoked or surrendered.

In an announcement, the DEA famous that it has taken steps to scale back the diversion of prescribed drugs to the black market, however the company additionally agreed that extra adjustments should be made.

“DEA appreciates the OIG’s assessment of the programs involved in the report and the opportunity to discuss improvements made to increase the regulatory and enforcement efforts to control the diversion of opioids,” it mentioned.

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Mulvihill reported from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Comply with Balsamo at http://www.twitter.com/MikeBalsamo1 and Mulvihill at http://www.twitter.com/ geoffmulvihill

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